Boxing is finally back on DAZN this Saturday, with a late-notice main event for the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title between Carlos Cuadras and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez.
Originally meant to be a rematch between Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the Thai ex-titleholder came down ill, and has been replaced by the unbeaten 22-year-old Rodriguez, a good-looking prospect taking a major shot at a weight he hasn’t fought before, going against a tough, experienced pro.
Who wins this intriguing matchup, the vet or the rising youngster? We’ve got our picks!
Scott Christ (0-2)
For a short-notice fight like this, I love this matchup, and truly admire “Bam” Rodriguez taking this sort of shot. Not only is he facing easily the toughest opponent of his career, but he’s moving up two divisions, in all reality, to do so. It’s bold, and it’s admirable. It’s the sort of thing we’d love to see more fighters do, especially hot prospects who just signed a major new deal.
There’s a lot of guesswork to do here. How will Rodriguez do at this weight, against this level of opponent? Cuadras is not quite the fighter he was at his peak, and has had an up-and-down few years, but he can still fight; we saw plenty of grit and desire still in him last time out against Juan Francisco Estrada. But that last time out was Oct. 2020, too, and he took some punishment. At 33, how are his legs? Because he’s probably going to have to chase Rodriguez, who can move and can bang.
I’m going with the kid, but I think this is about 50/50, with a lot to figure out on fight night. He’ll have to prove capable of holding up and dealing with Cuadras’ pressure, and have to have the power at 115 that he’s shown at lower weights to keep Cuadras honest, at least, but I think he can do it. Again, I love the fight. Rodriguez UD-12
Wil Esco (1-1)
This fight certainly isn’t the one we’ve been looking forward to now that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is out of the picture, and with that being the case I just have a hard time thinking Jesse Rodriguez is fully prepared for this kind of fight. And to be clear it’s not because I think Carlos Cuadras is some world beater but he does have ability to go along with the fact that he’s coming in off a full camp and not as a late replacement. As such I think Cuadras’ class will show in the meeting, and while he may be coming off a stoppage loss to Juan Francisco Estrada in his last outing, he’ll be the one scoring the stoppage victory here. Cuadras TKO-9
John Hansen (1-1)
Once I was put on live coverage for a fight as promising as Sor Rungvisai vs Cuadras II, the safest prediction was that something would come along to blow it all up. Fortunately, we get a substitute matchup with no history, but plenty of intrigue.
It’s been fun watching Sor Rungvisai, Cuadras, Chocolatito, and Estrada play rock-paper-scissors against each other, and I’d have no complaints if they spent the rest of their careers taking turns between themselves. But, if we had to see late replacements to keep Cuadras and Chocolatito on the schedule for Saturday and March 5th, short notice lemonade doesn’t get any sweeter than an exciting pair of fighters like Bam Rodriguez and Julio Cesar Martinez.
Rodriguez is still young enough to manage his weight and contend at 112 pounds, but he’s fought as a super flyweight before, too. He’s certainly taking on a major challenge in his step back up to 115. Cuadras is a proven champion there, and his training camp for Sor Rungvisai should have him more than ready to take on a powerful lefty like Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has never fought for a major belt before, and he’s never faced an opponent like Cuadras before. It feels like the smart, cautious pick is Cuadras. But, a young man has to start somewhere, and I can’t help feeling like Rodriguez will rise to the occasion and make his name at super flyweight in a big way. Rodriguez TKO-9
Patrick L. Stumberg (1-1)
The thing about this matchup is that I can absolutely picture “Bam” pulling it off. He’s so damn slick; great footwork, great upper-body movement, great timing, great snap to his shots. He put on a masterclass last time out, and with Cuadras’ mileage and well-documented struggles outside the ring, the upset feels alarmingly feasible.
There’s two key things we don’t know, though: how long he can dance like that and whether he can do it against even fringe contenders. Cuadras may be a fair bit rougher in his approach, but the man is inordinately relentless and a genuine super flyweight, one who’s acquitted himself against some of the finest of his generation. Even if Rodriguez has the potential to school him on a perfect evening, the size and short notice turn a longshot into a pipedream. I only hope that this is seen for what it is: a young, confident fighter putting the chance for glory above the shine of a perfect record. All the respect in the world to him. Cuadras TKO-10