Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez to Defend WBC Title Against Israel Gonzalez in September

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez‘s breakout 2022 campaign continues…

The 22-year-old Mexican American professional boxer will defend his WBC super flyweight versus Israel Gonzalez in the chief support bout to Canelo AlvarezGennadiy Golovkin 3 on September 17 in Las Vegas, Matchroom Boxing announced Monday.

Jesse "Bam" RodriguezRodriguez (16-0 11 KOs) scored the biggest win of his budding career last month with an eight-round TKO of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Rungvisai owns wins over future Hall of Famers Roman Gonzalez (“Chocolatito“) and Juan Francisco Estrada, and Bam Rodriguez was able to pick him apart at 22 years old in a star-making performance.

The victory followed a decision win over Carlos Cuadras in February when Rodriguez, who fights out of San Antonio, captured the WBC title. (Estrada is the franchise champion.)

“Having the chance to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend as the co-main to Canelo-GGG is truly special, and I plan on putting on another spectacular performance and continuing to build my legacy,” said Rodriguez, ESPN‘s No. 3 junior bantamweight. “Each fight now is more important than the last. It’s not about just winning; it’s how you win. That’s mine and my coach Robert Garcia‘s job now; to look sensational each and every time we step in the ring and continue to show the world that I am one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.”

Gonzalez, who fights out of Mexico, has lost in each of his world title challenges. He was stopped by Jerwin Ancajas in 2018 and outpointed by Kal Yafai later that year. Most recently, Gonzalez (28-4-1 11 KOs) dropped a unanimous decision to Chocolatito in 2020.

“I want to thank the champ Jesse Rodriguez for the opportunity,” said Gonzalez, 25. “I know I’ll take full advantage of this and make my dream come true of becoming a world champion.”

Rey Vargas Dethrones WBC Featherweight Champ Mark Magsayo via Split Decision

Rey Vargas is holding a belt again…

The 31-year-old Mexican professional boxer and former WBC junior featherweight champion, fighting for just the second time in three years, persevered through a late knockdown to dethrone WBC featherweight champ Mark Magsayo via split decision Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.

Rey Vargas “I have no words to describe what happened here tonight,” Vargas said through an interpreter. “This is my second title. This one’s going back to Mexico.”

After a vicious start at the Alamodome in which both men unleashed power punches and connected with a high percentage, the 5-foot-10 Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) took control of the bout by utilizing his longer reach to maintain distance and pepper Magsayo with jabs and left hooks whenever the Filipino fighter advanced.

Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) missed widely at times but did reach his target with big punches on several occasions throughout the 12 rounds, especially late in the ninth, when he dropped Vargas with a counter right hand. Vargas appeared to be on rubbery legs for the rest of that round and much of the 10th, but after that his jab and footwork kept him at a distance from Magsayo, who failed to aggressively capitalize on having his opponent hurt.

Two of the ringside judges saw the fight for Vargas by 115-112 scores, while the third scored it 114-113 for Magsayo.

“I worked hard for this,” Vargas said. “I want to thank God, my family, [trainer] Nacho [Ignacio Beristain]. The first title I won, I enjoyed it greatly but this one is special. This win is for me.”

Vargas had surrendered his 122-pound belt in 2020 — not inside a ring but because of his inactivity. Now a champion one division up, he wants to get right back into the ring, saying after the fight that he wants a title unification bout, preferably against WBA champ Leo Santa Cruz.

Magsayo entered the fight with a lofty ambition in boxing. The 27-year-old from the Philippines is a protege of his legendary countryman, Manny Pacquiao, and he’s been hyped up as the next “Pacman.” Magsayo became champ in January by ending the seven-year reign of Gary Russell Jr.

“I will rest and watch the fight and I’m going to train to fight again and will correct my mistakes for the next time,” Magsayo said after the fight.

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.

WBA Strawweight Champion Seniesa Estrada to Fight Anabel Ortiz in Rematch

Seniesa Estrada is returning to the ring…

After months out of the ring waiting for a fight, the 29-year-old Mexican American boxer and WBA strawweight champion will take on 35-year-old Mexican professional boxer Anabel Ortiz on August 6.

Seniesa EstradaEstrada announced her return on Twitter and will be on the undercard of the Vergil Ortiz Jr.-Michael McKinson fight in Texas.

The fight against Ortiz will be a rematch of her fight on March 20, 2021, when she won the strawweight title in a unanimous decision win over Ortiz in which she knocked the former champion down in the first round and dominated the fight.

Estrada (22-0, 9 KO), ESPN‘s No. 6 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, last fought in December, when she knocked out Maria Micheo Santizo in the fourth round.

This will be Estrada’s second defense of her title.

Ortiz (31-5, 4 KO) has lost her past two fights — by unanimous decision to Estrada, where she lost her title, and then last December to Marlen Esparza in a fight for the WBC flyweight title.

Before her loss to Estrada, Ortiz had a 21-fight win streak dating back to 2012, when she was defeated by Yesica Yolanda Bopp. Four of Ortiz’s five career losses came in world title fights.

Andy Ruiz Returning to Ring to Fight Luis Ortiz in September

Andy Ruiz is returning to the ring…

The 32-year-old Mexican American boxer, a former heavyweight champion, will fight Luis Ortiz on September 4 in Los Angeles, according to ESPN.

Andy RuizThe fight, which ESPN reported was signed in April, will be a PBC on Fox PPV event, sources said.

The fight will be Ruiz’s first in 15 months, and he’ll enter it with a new trainer for the second time in two fights. Ruiz is now training with Alfredo Osuna after he parted ways with Eddy Reynoso, sources said. Reynoso is best known as the trainer of boxing’s top star, Canelo Alvarez.

Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) became the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent when he defeated Anthony Joshua via seventh-round TKO in June 2019, in a bout that was named ESPN‘s 2019 Upset of the Year. Six months later, Joshua regained his three heavyweight titles with a unanimous-decision victory over Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.

Ruiz admitted he was not in shape when he fought Joshua in the rematch. He weighed a career-high 283.5 pounds and was lethargic during the fight, in stark contrast to the first bout, when he weighed 268 and consistently beat Joshua to the punch with his lightning-quick hands.

The Southern Californian has fought just once since the rematch, a May 2021 decision win over Chris Arreola. Ruiz weighed 256 pounds for that bout but was surprisingly dropped in Round 2 and struggled at times during the first half before he took control.

Ruiz, ESPN’s No. 5 heavyweight, underwent surgery on his right knee in August and will now prepare for just his second fight since he lost his three titles to Joshua.

Ortiz, ESPN’s No. 8 heavyweight, has twice challenged for the WBC heavyweight title, and both times he was knocked out by Deontay Wilder. The 43-year-old was ahead on the scorecards in the November 2019 rematch when Wider scored the spectacular KO.

Since the setback, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) has fought twice. The 43-year-old scored a first-round KO of journeyman Alexander Flores before he met Charles Martin on New Year’s Day 2022.

Ortiz was floored in the opening round and again in the fourth but rallied for a brutal stoppage in Round 6.

The winner of Ruiz-Ortiz will be in prime position for another heavyweight title shot next year. Tyson Fury holds one title, while Oleksandr Usyk and Joshua will meet in a rematch for three belts on August 20 in Saudi Arabia.

Amanda Serrano to Share Fight Card with Jake Paul in Return to Madison Square Garden in August

Amanda Serrano is returning to the ring this summer…

The 33-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler will once again share a fight card with Jake Paul when they fight on August 6 at Madison Square Garden in what they’re labeling “two main events.”

Amanda SerranoThe fights will be on Showtime Pay Per View. It’s the second straight fight for Serrano at MSG and Paul’s first in the iconic venue.

Serrano will fight at featherweight, where she’ll defend her WBO and WBC belts for the first time since her August 29, 2021 fight against Yamileth Mercado.

Serrano, one of two clients of Paul’s management and promotional company, Most Valuable Promotions, last fought on April 30 at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in a fight considered one of the best in women’s boxing history in a split-decision loss to Katie Taylor for the undisputed lightweight championship.

This will be the fourth fight for Serrano (42-2-1, 30 KO) attached to Paul. She first fought as the co-main event on Paul’s first fight against Tyron Woodley last August.

She signed with his promotional company a month later and fought as the co-main event on Paul’s second fight against Woodley in December.

She then fought Taylor in April, which was co-promoted by Paul and Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Boxing.

There was thinking that Serrano’s next fight would be a rematch against Taylor in Ireland later this year — Serrano and Paul both said they would be open to it immediately after the April fight — but Hearn told multiple outlets in the past couple of weeks that such a fight would not take place in Ireland in the immediate future.

Paul (5-0, 4 KO) last fought in December, knocking out  Woodley. He said he was going to take a break after fighting four times in 13 months between November 2020 and December 2021, then announced an August return to the ring the day after Serrano fought Taylor at MSG in April.

“Back in the gym, back to training and excited, more excited and motivated than ever,” Paul told ESPN back in March. “You know, that was Chapter 1 of my boxing career, that was my rookie season, and now I get to go on another chapter here.”

Paul had initially said he was returning to the ring on August 13, but has now moved it up a week.

Sebastian Fundora Defeats Erickson Lubin to Claim Interim Junior Middleweight Title

Sebastian Fundora is celebrating a big win…

The 24-year-old Cuban American professional boxer, known as “The Towering Inferno,” outlasted Erickson Lubin to claim the interim junior middleweight.

Sebastian Fundora

Fundora had dazzled with his height to earn the No. 5 spot in ESPN’s ranking, but he had never been truly tested before the fight Saturday against Lubin in Las Vegas.

In a fierce clash that saw both boxers hit the canvas, Fundora prevailed when Lubin’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, stopped the bout after Round 9 due to Lubin’s grotesquely swollen face.

The damage accumulated over nine rounds in a fight that kicked into high gear after Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KOs) floored Lubin with a right hand in the closing seconds of Round 2.

Lubin (24-2, 17 KOs) rallied to score a knockdown of Fundora with a flurry of punches in the waning moments of Round 7 and was ahead on two scorecards 85-84 when the fight was stopped (the other score was 85-85).

“I got hit with a good punch and I didn’t feel like I needed to get hit again so I took a knee to get a little breather in and I recovered,” Fundora said.

“I think this was probably my best performance ever. It was a back-and-forth fight. … The uppercut was landing like no other. It lands most of the time with everybody. Southpaw. Right hand. It doesn’t matter. Once I find that, I feel like the job’s done.”

With the victory, Fundora expects a future shot at the WBC title currently held by Jermell Charlo, who meets Brian Castano in a rematch for the undisputed championship on May 14. All of the fighters are aligned with Premier Boxing Champions, making that fight easy to make.

“I see Charlo winning the fight against Castano,” said Fundora, who defeated Sergio Garcia via decision in December. “I feel like he’ll be too strong for Castano the second time.”

Lubin was just 21 when he challenged Charlo for the WBC title in 2017, a fight he lost via first-round knockout. He rebounded with wins over Ishe Smith, Terrell Gausha and, most recently, a sixth-round KO of former unified champion Jeison Rosario in June.

The 26-year-old from Orlando, Florida, was rated No. 4 by ESPN at 154 pounds and figures to land another meaningful fight in the near future.

“I think it was a good decision for Kevin Cunningham to stop the fight,” Fundora said. “[Lubin’s] face shifted from Round 1 to Round 9. It completely morphed, and there was a lot of blood coming out.

“He’s a tough fighter. He was in the game the whole time, but there’s no need to get hurt that much.”

Fundora, meanwhile, will wait to see who emerges between Charlo and Castano.

Yordenis Ugas to Face Errol Spence in Welterweight Three-Belt Unification Bout

It’s official… Yordenis Ugas is readying for a three-belt unification bout…

The 35-year-old Cuban professional boxer, who has held the WBA welterweight title since January 2021, and Errol Spence will unify welterweight titles on April 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Spence announced on social media.

Yordenis Ugas,The bout will be Spence’s third at the home of the Dallas Cowboys; he defeated Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia (no relation) at the venue in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The deal was being finalized in December, as previously reported, but the fight wasn’t announced until two months later as Premier Boxing Champions officials sought to lock in a date and venue.

Spence, who will put his WBC and IBF titles on the line, will be making his second comeback from serious injury. The 31-year-old boxer was involved in a single-car accident in October 2019 that hospitalized him for days and sidelined him for months. A planned August 2021 fight with Manny Pacquiao was derailed after he underwent surgery to repair a detached retina.

Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) stepped in on 11 days’ notice and scored the upset of Pacquiao via unanimous decision. Now, Ugas will defend his WBA title in a three-belt unification.

The 35-year-old Cuban and Spence have one common opponent: Shawn Porter. Spence defeated Porter in a brutal September 2019 fight via split decision. Six months earlier, Ugas dropped a controversial split-decision to Porter.

Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) is rated No. 2 at 147 pounds by ESPN; Ugas is one spot behind. Terence Crawford, who holds the other welterweight title, is No. 1.

A fight between the winner of Spence-Ugas and Crawford would crown an undisputed welterweight champion, but there remains a roadblock. Eimantas Stanionis stepped aside from his mandatory title shot against Ugas to allow him to fight Spence. Stanionsis will fight Radzhab Butaev on the undercard, sources told ESPN. Both are rated in ESPN’s top 10 at welterweight.

Yordenis Ugas to Fight Errol Spence Jr in Welterweight Title Unification Fight

Yordenis Ugas is ready for a unification bout…

will receive his shot at Errol Spence Jr. after all.

Yordenis Ugas,The 35-year-old Cuban professional boxer and reigning WBA welterweight champion will fight Errol Spence Jr. for a welterweight title unification fight that will take place in March or April on pay-per-view at a location to be determined, according to ESPN.

Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) had previously protested when the WBA mandated that he next defend his welterweight title against Eimantas Stanionis, but the latter boxer has agreed to step aside, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza told ESPN on Sunday, paving the way for Ugas to fight Spence.

Spence and Ugas, who are both aligned with Al Haymon‘s PBC, are in the process of finalizing a deal

Spence’s WBC and IBF titles will be on the line, while Ugas will put up his WBA belt at 147 pounds. The other division title, the WBO strap, is held by Terence Crawford.

“Thanks to the WBA for doing the right thing,” Ugas tweeted. “It is an award for my dedication, and for being a brave man in and out of the ring. I will be fighting one of the best [pound-for-pound]. I’m a warrior. First Cuban fighting [for] three belts [in] one night. Thanks [to] all the fans who asked for this fight.”

Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) was slated to fight Manny Pacquiao in August but withdrew after he suffered a detached retina in training. Ugas stepped in on 11 days’ notice and scored the upset of the future Hall of Famer, sending Pacquiao into retirement with a loss.

Ugas was in talks to fight Spence before Pacquiao accepted the assignment, and he hoped to reschedule the bout after the biggest win of his career (Spence was cleared to resume training on Nov. 1.) But the WBA planned to stick to its four-man box-off in an attempt to create only one champion at 147 pounds.

In one of those bouts, Butaev (14-0, 11 KOs) scored a ninth-round stoppage of Jamal James in October. Ugas and Stanionis (13-0, 9 KOs) were meant to fight each other in the other bout. Now, Butaev, a 28-year-old Russian, will meet Stanionis for the right to face the winner of Spence-Ugas after the WBA “agreed to modify the tournament from its original decision,” Mendoza said.

“Eimantas is looking forward to beating Butaev on the Spence vs. Ugas card and then fight the winner,” Schaefer said. “He is ready for anyone in the welterweight division.”

Stanionis, a 27-year-old Lithuanian, fought Luis Collazo in August, but the bout resulted in a no decision after a clash of heads resulted in a deep cut for Collazo.

Meanwhile, Spence, one of the biggest attractions in boxing, prepares for yet another comeback without a tuneup bout. The 31-year-old from DeSoto, Texas, was hospitalized with serious injuries in a single-car accident in October 2019.

He returned in December 2020 with a victory over Danny Garcia but hasn’t competed since.

WBC Approves Canelo Alvarez’s Request to Chase Title in Fifth Weight Class

Canelo Alvarez may soon be chasing a title in a fifth weight class.

The WBC has approved a request by the 31-year-old Mexican professional boxer’s trainer and manager, Eddy Reynoso, to have Alvarez challenge Ilunga Junior Makabu for the cruiserweight championship.

Canelo AlvarezAlvarez, ESPN‘s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer, became the undisputed champion at 168 pounds earlier this month with an 11th-round TKO of Caleb Plant.

A win over Makabu would make Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) a five-division champion.

Alvarez has never competed at cruiserweight, so Reynoso needed to petition the WBC to order the title fight. Now that the fight has been approved, negotiations can begin; and if no deal is struck, a purse bid will be ordered.

“I know … what he has done with the heavyweights he spars with, and that is why we asked for the fight,” Reynoso told ESPN Deportes’ Salvador Rodriguez. “We know that [Makabu] is strong, but Canelo can beat him. … Many may say that it is crazy, but they also said that it was crazy when Canelo was junior middleweight champion, and we were looking for middleweights, super middleweight, light heavyweights.

“I have a lot of confidence in Canelo. He is very strong and has many qualities, and I know that he is going to win that fight.”

Alvarez fought once at 175 pounds, a November 2019 TKO victory over Sergey Kovalev for a light heavyweight title. He unified titles at 154 pounds and 160 pounds before that.

The cruiserweight limit is 200 pounds, but the WBC recently introduced an 18th weight class — bridgerweight — with a limit of 224 pounds. In a corresponding move, the Mexico-based organization is reducing the cruiserweight limit to 190 pounds, the same weight when the division was introduced in 1979, before it was increased by 10 pounds in 2004.

Reynoso told Rodriguez there have been some offers to fight in Congo, Makabu’s birthplace.

“Let’s see if something can be arranged for that to happen,” he said. “It is one more challenge. Just as we took the challenges at 168 and 175 pounds, now we are going to cruiserweight.”

Makabu, ESPN’s No. 4 cruiserweight, has reeled off nine consecutive wins since he lost the title to Tony Bellew via third-round TKO in 2016.

He is promoted by Don King, who last month announced a deal for Makabu to fight Thabiso Mchunu. However, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman claimed Mchunu wasn’t ready to fight on Jan. 8, as planned.

Makabu, 34, said he was excited about the prospect of fighting Alvarez.

“I’m feeling very happy because I fight the best boxer in the planet,” Makabu, who resides in Johannesburg, told Rodriguez. “Canelo has been beating everyone … but now he’s fighting one tough man.

“I’ll fight anywhere. Even if they put on the fight in his own house with no public. I’ll fight.”