Bam Rodriguez bashes his way to pound-for-pound status with flyweight unification triumph

Jesse Rodriguez did so much right in his triumph over Sunny Edwards on Saturday.

He scored a jolting right hand that damaged his opponent’s left orbital in round two. He cut the ring down and lured the habitually defensive Edwards into a firefight. He raked the Englishman’s body with a savage body attack that would have cut lesser men in half. He floored his opponent with a pinpoint accurate – and ultimately decisive – left hand to the jaw in Round 9.

And “Bam” Rodriguez did all of that with pound-for-pound panache.

This flyweight unification bout was eagerly anticipated and although Bam was favoured by oddsmakers to win, opinion was divided among fans and experts. Edwards presented a stylistic challenge that Rodriguez had never seen before in a professional ring. However, from the opening bell, Bam got down to work and hunted the Englishman down with the tenacity of a sniffer dog. Edwards was unlucky to sustain an eye injury early, but it was a punch that caused it.

MORE: Bam Rodriguez stops Sunny Edwards after nine stunning rounds in Arizona

As the rounds flew by, Edwards found his groove fleetingly, but Bam would soon regain control and force him to battle for survival. The British star deserves enormous credit for soldier-like courage in the face of what looked like a lost cause in the final two rounds of the fight. Despite his loquacious personality, “Showtime” made a lot of fans by delivering when it mattered most. It takes two to make a great fight and that’s exactly what this was.

So what about the winner? Since he arrived on the world scene in February of last year, “Bam” has been hitting home runs. He moved up to super flyweight for an opportunity to contest the vacant WBC title and scored a brilliant points win over Carlos Cuadras.

Four months later, the young Texan fighter blasted his way through ex-champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, closing out with an eighth-round TKO. Following another successful defence over Israel Gonzalez, the 23-year-old boxer-puncher returned to flyweight and picked up the vacant WBO title at the expense of Cristian Gonzalez.

While Bam didn’t look vintage in outpointing Gonzalez, he was forced to battle through a broken jaw for several rounds. Afterwards, he required surgery and a long period of recovery. Still, when the Edwards fight was signed and sealed, the overwhelming consensus was that this was a collision of the world’s best flyweights.

That’s exactly what it was.

While the pound-for-pound ratings are often referred to as “mythical”, they remain a source of great debate among fight fans. What Rodriguez has accomplished over the past 22 months across two weight classes is pound-for-pound worthy in anyone’s book.

And it’s not because he’s 23 years old. It’s an insult to suggest that. The results Bam has posted would be remarkable for a 25-year-old or a 28-year-old. He’s just a terrific prizefighter and his birth certificate is irrelevant.

The plan for Bam now is a return to super flyweight. In this weight class is a mix of fistic legends in Juan Francisco Estrada and “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, along with solid operators such as IBF champ Fernando Martinez and Japanese standout Kosei Tanaka. Unfortunately, Junto Nakatani has moved on to bantamweight. What a fight Bam vs. Nakatani would have been, but maybe that will happen in the future.

Bam’s preference appears to be Estrada, who currently holds his old WBC 115-pound title, as well as the Ring Magazine championship. The classy Mexican technician is a future Hall of Famer and will present the young hotshot with a formidable challenge. But regardless of who he fights next, fans will be tuning in because Bam Rodriguez has proved definitively that he’s one of the best fighters in the world today.

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