Bam Rodriguez Vacates WBC Belt To Move Down
Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has vacated the WBC junior bantamweight world title in order to move down to the flyweight division, the organization announced on Wednesday.
“The WBC has been officially informed by our undefeated champion Jesse Rodriguez of his decision to vacate his green and gold belt in order to move down and compete in a lighter weight category,” the WBC said in an announcement. “Jessie thrilled us in 2022, conquering the WBC title by defeating former champion Carlos Cuadras, knocking out mandatory contender, also a former champion, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai; and making a voluntary defense, defeating durable Israel Gonzalez to make this one of the most wonderfully successful years.
“The WBC wishes Jessie great success in his immediate future and looks forward to him competing for WBC plaudits in the months and years to come.”
Why vacate now?
Rodriguez, however, is probably headed toward a WBO title fight before another WBC shot.
Rodriguez and Robert Garcia, his trainer and manager, are in San Juan, Puerto Rico this week attending the annual WBO convention hoping to position Rodriguez for a shot at the organization’s flyweight title, which is expected to soon become vacant.
Reigning WBO flyweight titleholder Junto Nakatani will make his junior bantamweight debut against Francisco Rodriguez on Nov. 1 in Saitama, Japan on the undercard of the Kenshiro Teraji-Hiroto Kyoguchi junior flyweight unification fight and it is unlikely he will return to 112 pounds.
“That’s the plan and one of the reasons we’re here,” Garcia told Fight Freaks Unite and Big Fight Weekend in a text message about going to San Juan in an effort to lobby for a shot at the WBO title.
Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KOs), a 22-year-old southpaw from San Antonio, has had a breakout year in which he became the youngest active world titleholder.
In February, he moved up two divisions to challenge Cuadras for the vacant WBC 115-pound title when Sor Rungvisai was forced to withdraw due to illness. Rodriguez took the fight on six days’ notice but dropped Cuadras and handily outpointed him.
In June, Rodriguez thrilled a San Antonio hometown crowd in his first title defense by knocking out former two-time champion Sor Rungvisai in the eighth round of an even more impressive performance than his victory over Cuadras.
Rodriguez 2022 roll continued recently
Rodriguez made his second and final defense on Sept. 17 in Las Vegas in a hard-fought unanimous decision over Gonzalez in the Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin III co-feature.
All along, Rodriguez talked about his desire to eventually move down in weight, saying he was comfortable making 112 pounds — or even 108 — and that he wanted to win a world title in a lighter division.