Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez Defeats Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to Retain WBC Junior Bantamweight Title

Jesse Bam Rodriguez is keeping his title…

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez“This is the youngest champ in boxing and he already might be a pound-for-pound great,” said Rodriguez’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. “He’s here for legacy; he’s here to be remembered.”

It was a dazzling display from Rodriguez, who headlined in his hometown for the first time. He used an excellent southpaw jab, beautiful footwork and plenty of angles to keep Rungvisai off-rhythm and at the end of his power shots.

Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KOs) owns victories over a pair of future Hall of Famers in their primes — Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada — so it was particularly impressive the way Rodriguez was able to pick off his heavy shots and win every round in dominant fashion.

The plodding 35-year-old from Thailand needs to set his feet to deliver his power shots, but Rodriguez never allowed him to do so. He presented a moving target, and on the rare occasion Rungvisai did close distance, “Bam” turned him around.

“In the third round I felt his power wasn’t the same,” said Rodriguez, who entered the fight rated No. 5 by ESPN at 115 pounds. ” … That’s when I decided to take over. … Having Robert Garcia in my corner is a huge advantage.”

Rodriguez, whose brother Joshua Franco holds a secondary title at 115 pounds, said he could campaign at 112 pounds before returning to the weight class.

“He’s a very underrated fighter and it’s a matter of time until he gets his shot,” Rodriguez said of Franco, who is ESPN’s No. 6 junior bantamweight.

Rungvisai, ESPN’s No. 3 boxer at 115 pounds, lost for just the second time since a 2014 technical decision defeat to Carlos Cuadras. And it was Cuadras whom Rodriguez defeated in February to announce his arrival and pick up his first world title, though Estrada remains the WBC’s franchise champion in the weight class.

Joshua Franco Defeats Andrew Moloney to Retain Secondary WBA Title

Joshua Franco is keeping his title…

The 25-year-old Latino boxer has settled the score with Andrew Moloney, capping a rivalry that climaxed with a controversial finish in November and ended at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday with a decisive victory in the ESPN main event.

Joshua Franco

Franco, nicknamed “El Profesor,” retained his secondary WBA title at 115 pounds with a unanimous decision over Moloney. All three judges scored the fight 116-112.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is the recognized champion at junior bantamweight.

Earlier this week, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza announced his intentions to clean up the plentiful secondary titles that have muddied the championship picture. But with the win, Franco figures to earn a shot at one of the “big four” at 115 pounds in the near future, a stacked division headlined by Juan Francisco Estrada, Gonzalez, Kazuto Ioka and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

“I see bigger fights. I see Chocolatito, Gallo Estrada, Ioka,” said Franco, ESPN’s No. 6 boxer at 115 pounds. “For sure, this win puts me top five, on the same list as the other champions. I needed this fight to prove myself.”

Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) consistently beat Moloney to the punch and landed the cleaner, harder shots. The bout featured plenty of inside fighting, but it was always Franco who was able to push Moloney back in those exchanges.

Despite being just 25 years old, Franco has now been a part of two boxing trilogies. He fought Oscar Negrete three consecutive times in 2018 and 2019, with a win sandwiched between two draws. Saturday’s victory over Moloney came in a third meeting.

Franco scored a unanimous decision win over Moloney (ESPN’s No. 7 115-pounder) in June 2020, when an 11th-round knockdown was the difference-maker.

In the November rematch, Moloney closed Franco’s right eye before the ringside doctor stopped the fight in Round 2.

Believing he had just exacted revenge, Moloney (21-2, 14 KOs) jumped onto the turnbuckle to celebrate. Instead, he was met by the feeling he was robbed of his biggest victory to date. Referee Russell Mora curiously ruled that the swelling was the result of an accidental clash of heads, and the fight was deemed a no-contest even after instant replay was consulted for more than 25 minutes. In reality, it was Moloney’s punches — 51 connected in just two rounds. (Franco landed 18.)

“That eye was closed by 50 jabs,” Moloney said in November. “That’s why his eye is shut — not the head-butt. There’s no head-butt. I can’t believe they took this away from me. I’ve trained my ass off for the last five months, been away from my family, and they just take it away from me. I can’t believe they didn’t give it to me. That’s why they have instant replay working right now.”

This time, instant replay did its job. Referee Jack Reiss called a knockdown in Saturday’s Round 7 after Franco fell to the canvas, but after the sequence was reviewed, the ruling was reversed.

“The call wasn’t right; I knew that I slipped,” Franco said. “When he told me they’d go to replay, I said, ‘OK, they’ll get it right.'”

The first third of Saturday’s fight was difficult to score, with tons of inside fighting. But like in the first meeting, Franco took over as the fight pushed on. His jab was the key this time around, setting up 127 power punches landed to Moloney’s 73.

“I had to switch it up on him,” said Franco, who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. “He thought I was going to put pressure on him the whole time. That wasn’t working, so I had to switch it up and go to my boxing skills.

“I had fun with my rhythm, with my jab, my feet. I’m comfortable in there, and that’s what I did.”

Pablo Cesar Cano to Fight Fidel Maldonado Jr. at the Dallas Cowboys Training Facility

Pablo Cesar Cano is ready to rumble…

The 27-year-old Mexican professional boxer will face off against fellow hard-hitting junior welterweight Fidel Maldonado Jr. in a 10-round fight on June 17 at the Tostitos Championship Plaza at The Star in Frisco, Texas, according to Golden Boy Promotions.

Pablo Cesar Cano

The fight, which will be the first boxing event to take place at the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys, will headline a “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” card (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET).

Cano (30-5-1, 21 KOs), a former interim junior welterweight titlist, is as battle-tested as they come, though he lost his biggest fights — decisions against Paulie Malignaggi and Shane Mosley and a 10th-round knockout to Erik Morales in a 2011 junior welterweight world title fight. But he’s also coming off a 10-round split decision against fringe contender Mauricio Herrera in November and hoping to score another win and move on to a bigger fight.

“Even though I have been a professional for 11 years, I feel like I am just hitting my prime,” Cano said. “With a win over Maldonado, I feel like I will be ready to take on the top opponents at 140 pounds and compete for a world title.”

Maldonado (23-3-1, 19 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is 4-0-1 in his past five bouts since suffering a fifth-round knockout loss to contender Amir Imam in January 2015.

“I can’t wait to get in the ring with Cano and show the Texas fans what I’m all about,” Maldonado said. “People may call this a crossroads fight, but I’m only interested in taking one road — toward a world championship.”

In the co-feature, San Antonio’s Joshua Franco (10-0, 5 KOs), 21, and 24-year-old Oscar Mojica (10-2, 1 KO), of Dallas, will engage in an all-Texas junior bantamweight fight scheduled for eight rounds.

Dallas junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. (5-0, 5 KOs), who is just 19, will face an opponent to be determined in his first scheduled six-round bout.

Other Dallas-based Golden Boy prospects — junior lightweight Javier Martinez (1-0, 1 KO) and junior middleweight Alex Rincon (1-0, 1 KO) — will also appear on the card as will San Antonio junior lightweight prospect Hector Tanajara Jr. (8-0, 4 KOs).