Jesse Rodriguez has long envisioned winning major titles in at least three separate weight divisions.
The only thing that has now changed is the order in which he will claim them, should he prevail in a short notice assignment versus Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC junior bantamweight champion. The fight comes two weight divisions higher than where San Antonio’s Rodriguez (14-0, 10KOs) planned to win his first belt, though not at all a concern when he received the call just earlier this week to accept an advance to the DAZN main event this Saturday at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
“The size is not a problem,” Rodriguez noted during the final pre-fight press conference held Thursday afternoon at Sheraton Downtown Phoenix Hotel. “A lot of people say I have to gain weight to go up to 115. That’s not true. I had to train to get to 115. I’m a big 108-pounder.
“I’m ready to give a great performance. This is my moment, I’m born to perform. Saturday night, San Antonio will have a new world champion and a star will be born.”
Rodriguez was originally due to face Fernando Diaz in a regional title fight on Saturday’s undercard. He and head trainer Robert Garcia were contacted this past weekend to see if he would move into the main event slot once former lineal junior bantamweight champ and two-time WBC titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fell ill shortly after arriving in Phoenix. Rodriguez—who primarily campaigns at junior flyweight—didn’t blink when asked to face the naturally bigger Cuadras (39-4-1, 27KOs), a former WBC junior bantamweight titlist who seeks to enter his second reign.
“No hesitation,” insisted Rodriguez. “I’m searching for big fights. My last fight was (supposed to be) for a world title, but that fell through. This opportunity came at 115 for the WBC world title. Who’s gonna pass that up?
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m ready for whatever.”
A win by Rodriguez would mark just the latest—though still rare—instance of brothers simultaneously holding titles in the same weight division. Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs), Rodriguez's older brother, currently owns the WBA "World" junior bantamweight title.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox