Ask any old-school reporter and he/she will tell you.

Every now and then, you’ve got to clean out the notebook.

And after a week that featured the arrival of a new star at 115 pounds, the announcement of a new circus at 200 pounds and the anniversary of a great fighter’s great night at 126 pounds, here goes.

Rodriguez’s Baby Step Toward Greatness

If you’ve seen many 22-year-old fighters look as good on a high level as Jesse Rodriguez did on Saturday night in San Antonio, consider yourself fortunate.

While the Robert Garcia-trained commodity was admittedly in against an ex-champ whose needle has moved a tick or two toward shopworn, the near effortless performance he put on to dispatch Srisaket Sor Rungvisal across eight one-sided rounds was still worth a watch.

He’s handled a pair of 115-pound stalwarts in Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras and it’s clear another pair of super flyweight/junior bantamweight elites – namely Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada – are on the agenda going forward, at least if promoter Eddie Hearn has his way.

“This kid can do anything he wants,” Hearn said. “There’s a long, long career ahead.

“When you’re promoting fighters as special as Jesse is, you can go into all these fights confident and knowing that you’ve got the cream of the crop.”

Rodriguez has already gone as low as 105 pounds and as high as 126 3/4 across just 16 pro fights, so, assuming he gets through the remaining veterans on his hit list, perhaps he’s the guy who’ll one day provide Japanese monster Naoya Inoue with a U.S.-based super fight. Inoue, who’s 29, stands an inch taller than Rodriguez at 5-foot-5 and holds a half-inch edge in reach, 67 1/2 to 67.

Jake Paul to Play the Garden

Marciano-Louis. Ali-Frazier. Bowe-Golota.

Three of the more noteworthy fights – for vastly different reasons – that have taken place in the “world’s most famous arena” in midtown Manhattan.

But brace yourself, folks. 

Jake Paul is about to join then on the historic marquee at Madison Square Garden.

The social media troublemaker and his chirpy English counterpart – Tyson Fury’s half-brother Tommy – made it official last week that they’ll meet on August 6 as part of a show that’ll also feature Amanda Serrano’s mandatory title defense against Brenda Carabajal.

Fury and Paul have been sniping back and forth for what seems like years and they were actually set to go last December before Fury pulled out and Paul wrecked old foe Tyron Woodley in his place.

The American is graduating to MSG after playing lesser rooms in Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland and Tampa, while Fury has left England just once – to appear on the card under Paul’s initial bout with Woodley in August 2021. He’s 8-0 with four KOs compared to Paul’s four KOs in five wins, but actually appears far less instinctive and polished in spite of the advanced experience and famous bloodlines.

If it actually happens this time, it says here that Paul finishes him in six.

Appreciating Salvador Sanchez

If you’re just cruising the Internet in your downtime, or, like me this week, you’ve been sequestered to one side of the house thanks to a positive COVID test, it’s never a bad time to look at old fights.

YouTube is an invaluable tool when it comes to researching fighters you’d known little about, or to go back to rewatch guys who were among your favorites years ago.

And to me, Salvador Sanchez is among the latter.

On a very, very short list of the greatest fighters I’ve ever seen – combining remarkable stamina, superior work rate and precision punching to defeat some of the best fighters of his era.

I was a few weeks before my 11th birthday when he beat Danny “Little Red” Lopez on CBS to win the WBC featherweight title, and I’ve seen both that one and each of his 10 subsequent fights (nine defenses, one non-title bout – all victories) dozens and dozens of times in the decades since. 

The 42nd anniversary of his rematch with Lopez, which he won by 14th-round TKO, was last Tuesday.

Among the most memorable others were a 15-round decision over a 21-year-old Juan LaPorte and an eighth-round battering of Wilfredo Gomez, who’d arrived as the unbeaten WBC champ at 122 pounds.

Sanchez died in a car wreck three weeks after stopping future Hall of Famer Azumah Nelson in Round 15 of a Garden main event in July 1982, ending his seven-year career at 44-1-1 with 32 KOs. 

If you’ve never seen him, do yourself a favor. And if you have, go back and appreciate him again. 

It’s worth it.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:


IBF mini flyweight title -- Monterrey, Mexico

Rene Mark Cuarto (champion/No. 10 IWBR) vs. Daniel Valladares (No. 3 IBF/Unranked IWBR)

Cuarto (20-2-2, 11 KO): Second title defense; Second fight outside the Philippines (1-0, 1 KO)

Valladares (25-3-1, 15 KO): Second title fight (0-0-1); Hasn’t fight at 105 pounds since 2020 (five fights)

Fitzbitz says: I was leaning toward the challenger at first glance, but the more I looked the more suspect I became. Cuarto is hardly Inoue or Chocolatito, but he’s good enough here. Cuarto by decision (80/20) 


IBF cruiserweight title – Broadbeach, Australia

Mairis Briedis (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Jai Opetaia (No. 4 IBF/No. 18 IWBR)

Briedis (28-1, 20 KO): Second title defense; Previously held WBC and WBO titles at 200 (one defense)

Opetaia (21-0, 17 KO): First title fight; Only two career fights beyond eight rounds (2-0, 1 KO)

Fitzbitz says: The challenger is a big, strong guy with a great KO rate who’s fighting in his home country, but he’s stepping to a whole new level with a guy who barely lost a P4P elite. Briedis in 10 (90/10) 

Last week's picks: 3-0 (WIN: Gonzalez, Akhmadaliev, Rodriguez)

2022 picks record: 20-7 (74.1 percent)

Overall picks record: 1,229-399 (75.5 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.