In one of the most eagerly anticipated matchups of 2023, WBO flyweight titleholder Jesse Rodriguez will face off against IBF counterpart Sunny Edwards at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on December 16. The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will air on DAZN worldwide.
The 23-year-old Rodriguez is a two-division champion, having held the WBC super flyweight title in 2022. “Bam” won the WBO flyweight title in April by outpointing Cristian Gonzalez. One of the most promising young fighters out here, Rodriguez wants to post yet another signature win.
“This is the biggest fight of my career,” Rodriguez said via Boxing Scene. “I’m so excited to fight Sunny Edwards. I’ve seen a lot of talk about the fight before it was even signed. I know a lot of people are going to be tuned in.”
Edwards won the IBF title from Moruti Mthalane He has defended the belt on four occasions and called out Rodriguez multiple times. After months of waiting, his wish will finally be granted.
The young gun in Rodriguez and British star Edwards compete for flyweight supremacy and bragging rights. Two titles are on the line, but absent from this showdown is the coveted Ring Magazine championship.
Why is The Ring belt not on the line in Jesse Rodriguez vs. Sunny Edwards?
The Ring is considered one of the most prestigious organizations in sports journalism and the championship is widely viewed as being the hardest to win.
Currently, the flyweight division has no Ring champion. The last time “The Bible of Boxing” anointed a flyweight champion was in 2014 when Roman Gonzalez scored a ninth-round stoppage of Akira Yaegashi. “Chocolatito” held the title for two years before relinquishing it.
The Ring panel voted against putting the vacant title on the line in the Rodriguez vs. Edwards fight. A vacant championship is ordinarily reserved for #1 vs. #2 in a specific division, though #1 vs. #3 has been approved in the past. But while Edwards is rated #1 in The Ring flyweight ratings, Rodriguez is ranked fourth. Ahead of him is WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez and WBA titleholder Artem Dalakian.
The Ring ratings panel convened to discuss the vacant flyweight title being at stake, but the majority of the members decided against it.
There has been outrage online regarding this decision. Edwards even petitioned for the belt to be on the line, telling The Sporting News, “I want The Ring magazine Why is The Ring Magazine title not on the line in Jesse Rodriguez vs. Sunny Edwards boxing fight? at flyweight. I don’t know if they’d let me fight Bam for it because he’s No. 4. I’m not sure Bam would qualify. I think it should get petitioned, being that The Ring magazine [title at flyweight] hasn’t been fought for in so long, and he’s arguably the best fighter outside of me at the weight.”
Martinez defends his belt against Angelino Cordova on a Showtime card on the 16th. Dalakian doesn’t have a fight scheduled at the moment.