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Canelo vs Smith: Julio Cesar Martinez vs Francisco Rodriguez Jr to feature on undercard

Martinez ran over Moises Calleros in August.

Juan Francisco Estrada v Carlos Cuadras - WBC Super-Flyweight Championship Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

The Ring reports that WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez will serve as the co-feature for Canelo Alvarez vs. Callum Smith on December 19th, defending his belt against #2 contender Francisco Rodriguez Jr.

It’s already on the schedule, but I figured it could use its own post. Plus, after I’d scheduled it, the official press release came out.

Rodriguez (33-4-1, 24 KO) claimed his first world title at the age of 20, knocking out unbeaten Merlito Sabillo for the WBO minimumweight belt in 2014 and out-warring Katsunari Takayama in his first defense. That done, he vacated to campaign at light flyweight, where he fell short in a bid for Donnie Nietes’ belt and subsequently dropped a split decision to Moises Fuentes.

He’s since been content to bounce between flyweight and super flyweight in his native Mexico, winning 14 straight against largely limited competition. His most notable victories in that span came over a shot “Tyson” Marquez and, in November of last year, Jose Maria Cardenas.

“I want to thank Martínez and his team as well as Matchroom for giving me this opportunity,” said Rodriguez Jr. “It is a pleasure to fight in the biggest card of the year. Martinez is a solid champion and a good fighter, but with all due respect, he hasn’t fought someone like me; I been waiting for this shot for almost five years and it comes at a perfect timing – I won’t waste it[.]”

Martinez (17-1, 13 KO) makes his third appearance of the year and his second in the last two months. After beating Jay Harris in January, “Rey” saw illness scrap a planned August clash with McWilliams Arroyo, then lost October foe Maximino Flores to COVID. He instead obliterated an overweight Moises Calleros on the Estrada-Cuadras 2 undercard; by coincidence, Rodriguez actually knocked Calleros out in 2013 after getting stopped himself by Roman Gonzalez.

“I’m here in San Diego preparing, and I’m very excited to be here,” said Martinez. “I’m completing almost two months of camp. I’m so honored to be fighting on the undercard of Saul. I’m going to leave everything to God as always and have faith that he’ll ensure it all goes well. Hopefully, that night I’ll get a knockout.

“We know that this guy is solid that he’s coming very well prepared. It’s going to be a tough fight, but we know as always we’ve prepared 1000 percent, and we have no fear. Going to leave everything in the ring. I still have three kilos to lose, but I have two, almost three weeks left to lose that. I’m excited and anxious.

“I’m appreciative of everything from Mr. Eddie Hearn and Matchroom for all of their support. I also want to thank Eddy Reynoso and my trainer Mauricio Aceves who is always so attentive, and my family. “Somos con todos menos con miedo.” Blessings”

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