Time will tell whether it sticks or not, but IBF bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez took to Facebook today to announce his retirement from boxing at the age of 31. He claims that after 21 years in the sport, he doesn’t want to wait until he loses his love for it before hanging them up.
Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KO) leaves boxing as arguably the top fighter at 118 following Naoya Inoue’s exit. He burst onto the world stage in 2018 by routing Paul Butler for the vacant belt, then outlasted Jason Moloney in the opening round of the 2019 WBSS. “The Monster” wound up bouncing Rodriguez from the semifinals, after which Rodriguez dropped a hugely controversial decision to Reymart Gaballo for the interim WBC belt and saw a fight with Gary Antonio Russell end via headbutt after just 16 seconds.
He swiftly found his footing again, punching his ticket to another title shot by cruising past Russell in the rematch. He was even more dominant in said title shot, which saw him floor Melvin Lopez three times en route to a trio of 120-105 cards.
Rodriguez is clearly still at the peak of his powers and many interesting fights remain for him, including unification clashes with Moloney, Alexandro Santiago, and Takuma Inoue. That said, if he feels like it’s time to move on, I’ll trust his judgment. Always better to go too early than too late.
As for his belt, Ryosuke Nishida sits atop the IBF rankings, followed by the aforementioned Gaballo. If Gaballo instead uses his no. 1 spot with the WBO to challenge Moloney, Keita Kurihara and Sho Ishida are next in line.