Jesse Rodriguez KOs Juan Francisco Estrada Before a Roaring Crowd in Phoenix


By Norm Frauenheim

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Jesse Rodriguez said he could stop anybody.

He wasn’t kidding.

He added a few more dimensions to his nickname – Bam, knocking down the accomplished Juan Francisco Estrada twice for a definitive seventh-round KO Saturday in front of a roaring crowd at Footprint Center.

It was a fight that put the Super into Flyweight. It was also a fight that likely put Rodriguez into pound-for-pound contention.

It wasn’t easy. Rodriguez, a 24-year-old from San Antonio, had to get up to do it. Estrada floored him in the sixth round with a right.

“I got knocked down for the first time,’’ said Rodriguez (20-0, 13 KOs). “Damn, that was crazy.’’

But not as crazy as what would follow. Late in the seventh, Rodriguez threw a left to the body. Estrada (44-4, 28 KOs) hit the canvas and rolled around like an accident victim. He was finished. Within the final second of the seventh, it was over. Rodriguez had taken Estrada’s World Boxing Council 115-pound belt.

“It was a tough fight,’’ Bam said. And it looks as if there will be another one. Estrada said his contract includes a rematch clause.

“I made a lot of mistakes tonight,’’ said Estrada. “I want the chance to correct them.’’

Estrada’s first mistake came early. In the fourth, Bam’s emerging blend of power and skill was a force that put Estrada somewhere he’s rarely been. He was down, on the canvas for the only the second time since Carlos Cuadras put him there.

Estrada would recover, responding with the kind of power Bam has never felt, Still, there were moments when it looked as if Estrada’s will and poise were eroding. He swung wildly in the closing seconds of the sixth round.

Not even an arena jammed with Estrada fans was enough to help him elude the momentum Bam had.

Before the opening bell:

Estrada must have felt as if he was at home before the opening bell. The crowd erupted in a roar when he was introduced. It chanted his nickname, El Gallo.

The crowd knows him. Knows how he grew up. He’s the son of a Mexican fisherman, born about 215 miles south of Phoenix in Puerto Penasco, a small town at the top of the Gulf of California.

Through the first two rounds, however, Rodriguez began to assert himself. The San Antonio lefthander moved forward, alternating his footwork, moving right and then left.

The footwork seemed to surprise Estrada, who in the opening seconds looked confused by the emerging tactics from a young fighter who’s only getting better.


Sunny in Arizona? More like Scarred. In his second straight fight in the Phoenix area since a bruising stoppage loss in December to Bam Rodriguez, UK flyweight Sunny Edwards sustained a nasty wound near his right eye in a fight eventually stopped because of a cut caused by a head butt. This time, Edwards won, scoring a 90-82, 88-84, 87-85 technical decision over Adrian Curiel. "I'm leaving Arizona a lot uglier than I was when I came here,'' Edwards (21-1, 4 KOs) said after the flyweight bout. The clash of heads came in the sixth. It caused a cut, a long deep gash from the inside of Edwards right eye and up along his forehead. Early in the ninth, referee Mark Nelson ended it on advice of the ringside physician.

Yamileth Mercado (24-3, 5 KOs) was too big, too strong and just too much for Ramla Ali (9-2, 2 KOs), a Somalian who fell short in her bid to take the World Boxing Council’s junior featherweight belt from the Mexican. Mercado won a 98-92, 98-93, 97-93 decision.

A slow start and a furious finish for Arturo Cardenas (14-0-1, 8 KOs) who opened the DAZN show featuring Bam-Estrada Saturday looking tentative. He appeared unsure of himself and his opponent, junior-featherweight Danny Barrios. But he quickly overcame his slow start and, in the end, overcame Barrios (15-1 5 KOs). The Robert Garcia-trained Cardenas began to find his range and used his superior power. Repeatedly, he caught Barrios, of Phoenix, with lefts and right-uppercuts. In the end, Cardenas escaped with a majority decision.

Photo credit: Melina Pizano / Matchroom
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