Jesse Rodriguez is clearly the real deal.
In February, he moved up two weight classes at short notice to defeat former 115-pound title holder Carlos Cuadras. On Saturday in San Antonio, his hometown, he did it himself: he outclassed and then stopped long-lasting two-time champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in eight rounds.
To say the 22-year-old has arrived is an understatement.
No one is shocked that Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs) was able to beat Sor Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KOs); he preferred to successfully defend his secondary WBC title. It was how he took down the junior bantamweight avid from Thailand who was so dazzling.
Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs) defeated Sor Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KOs) from the start, as expected. The American is the better technician.
The ruthless Sor Rungvisai’s game plan was obvious: defeat his naturally smaller opponent with pressure and force, then take over the fight in the later rounds. Well, surprise, surprise: the opposite happened.
Rodriguez boxed beautifully, landing sharp jabs to set up accurate power shots round after round after round and Sor Rungvisai couldn’t help it. And he was always aware of his defense and used his feet to create difficult corners for Sor Rungvisai.
That’s how the fight went, with Rodriguez making more and more punishing shots and Sor Rungvisai missing most of his shots.
Rodriguez put Sor Rungvisai down with a left hook to the temple on round 7, although Sor Rungvisai slipped just as the blow landed. But by then it was clear that the Thai fighter was worn out.
Then came the astonishing conclusion. Rodriguez continued to pack a pounding punch to Sor Rungvisai’s firm chin, but one man can only take so much. Finally, with Sor Rungvisai’s back against the ropes in the eighth round, Rodriguez fired off a barrage of accurate power shots that left referee Mark Calo-oy with no choice but to stop the fight at 1:50.
Fans of Rodriguez’s hometown at the Tech Port Arena, well aware of the jewel falling into their lap, went mad and he dropped to the canvas – where he was mobbed by his team – almost in disbelief. But it was true. He had just followed his win over Cuadras by stopping a beast that arguably has Hall of Fame credentials.
How is he going to top this?
Well, the names of the top two 115-pounders—Juan Francisco Estrada (the WBC’s “franchise” champion) and Roman Gonzalez—surfaced after the fight. Such a match-up for Rodriguez would have seemed ridiculous a year ago. Not now. Not only does a fight with one or both make sense, he would stand a good chance of winning.
Rodriguez has also talked about going back to a more natural 112 pounds, which also makes sense.
Whatever he and his team decide to do, one thing is certain: after his achievements over the past four months, the boxing world will be paying close attention.