Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez is once again a world champion, claiming the vacant WBO flyweight title thanks to a wide decision victory tonight in San Antonio, Texas.
It wasn’t easy, as the resilient and elusive Cristian Gonzalez wouldn’t let himself get trapped long enough to finish things. And it certainly wasn’t pleasant, as Rodriguez (18-0, 11 KO) fought the last half with a broken jaw after getting caught with an open mouth in the 6th round.
Even having broken his jaw, Gonzalez (15-2, 5 KO) never seemed to rattle or threaten Rodriguez in this fight. But, he never stopped throwing, and used excellent movement to both sides as a way to avoid extended punishment. Bam was relentless in his approach, with Gonzalez rarely more than a step or two away from the ropes and corners, and almost never getting a chance to throw punches off the front foot. Gonzalez’s footwork and movement were excellent, though, and Bam just could not box him in long enough to finish the show despite an otherwise thoroughly controlling performance. Official scores were 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112 for Rodriguez.
Rodriguez became boxing’s youngest champion last February when he beat Carlos Cuadras for the WBC super flyweight title. He dropped that belt after two successful defenses to pursue opportunities at 112 pounds instead, and is now a multi-division champion at just 23 years old.
Conversation before the fight focused on a potential matchup with Sunny Edwards. But, post-fight comments were limited due to Bam’s broken jaw, which obviously impacts upcoming flyweight opportunities.
Based on a medical explainer we did after cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia suffered a similar injury, it’s probably three to four months at the earliest before Bam will be ready to fight again. Will it be against Sunny Edwards? Or will that have to wait until late 2023 or early 2024 instead? Only time, and Eddie Hearn, will tell.
Marlon Tapales SD-12 Murodjon Akhmadaliev
Not many people predicted it, but the co-feature was a tense twelve-rounder that ended with underdog Marlon Tapales as the new WBA and IBF champion at 122 pounds.
Tapales (37-3, 19 KO) was the IBF mandatory challenger, forced to wait for this opportunity because of a broken left hand that Murodjon Akhmadaliev suffered against Ronny Rios in his last fight. That may have been a factor in this one, as Akhmadaliev (11-1, 8 KO) didn’t throw a serious left hand punch until almost halfway through the fight.
Tapales picked up a lot of early rounds behind a sharp jab against an uncharacteristically tentative Ahmadaliev, who didn’t really get himself going until the 7th round, and didn’t really turn loose his signature left until a few rounds after that. Akhmadaliev came to life in the final rounds, and knocked Tapales stumbling in the final round, just shy of a knockdown. But, the rally wasn’t enough, and Tapales won a split decision by way of 115-113 and 115-113 cards, with a dissenting 118-110 in favor of Akhmadaliev.
No idea where that Akhmadaliev score came from, as we had it unofficially 116-113 for Akhmadaliev, and that was with a 10-10 opening round and most of the debatable rounds shaded towards the former champion.
The loss is a major setback for Akhmadaliev, who looked to be on track for a potential undisputed unification against the winner of Naoya Inoue vs Stephen Fulton. Instead, it’s Marlon Tapales who will be watching that one with two belts around his waist, ready for another huge opportunity.
Ray Ford UD-12 Jessie Magdaleno
A strong performance from Ray Ford tonight resulted in a wide decision victory over Jessie Magdaleno. Ford (14-0-1, 7 KO) dropped Magdaleno twice, once in the 4th and again in the 11th, and rocked him in the 6th round as well. But, Magdaleno (29-2, 18 KO) managed to survive to the cards, where Ford won unanimously on 119-107, 119-107, and 116-110 scores.
It’s only the second loss of Magdaleno’s career, and the most significant victory of Ford’s. After the fight, Ford expressed some mild disappointment with himself for not getting the stoppage. But, he was happy with his performance across a 12 round distance, and said he feels ready for a championship level fight.
Thomas Mattice TKO-10 Ramiro Cesena
The opener was a fantastic action fight, ultimately spoiled by wretched refereeing. Ramiro Cesena started fast, constantly pressing Thomas Mattice and throwing every punch with snap and power.
Mattice (21-3-1, 16 KO) turned it around in the 5th, taunting and jawing at Cesena (16-1-1, 13 KO), then jamming his elbow in Cesena’s face and walking him into the ropes as a response to what Mattice felt was some rough business. That led to a very stern warning to both men, which might have been a factor in some 8th round controversy.
In that 8th round, Mattice lost his mouthpiece, then had a point deducted for hitting Cesena as the referee stepped in to replace it. It wasn’t clear on the broadcast whether referee Rafael Ramos called for a pause, but he was practically in between the fighters when the punch landed, and Mattice didn’t exactly back away quietly after.
That controversy wound up being irrelevant, and completely overshadowed by a baffling decision to stop the fight with less than 90 seconds remaining. Cesena was up 89-81, 86-84, and 86-84 on the official scorecards entering the 10th and final round. He got caught and shaken up a little bit by Mattice, but was covering up well against the ropes. Highlights are below… If you can find more than maybe one punch that actually landed through the guard of Cesena in that finishing sequence, please point it out.
Mattice escapes with a TKO victory. Cesena was seen repeatedly trying to talk to referee Rafael Ramos in the aftermath, but Ramos was notably reluctant to engage or even make eye contact.
Terrible, terrible ending to an otherwise exciting and entertaining fight.