Pick It: TBRB #2 (115) Jesse Rodrguez vs. Cristian Gonzalez (Saturday, DAZN, 8:00 PM EST)
23-year old Jesse Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KO) had a breakout 2022, jumping from 108 to 115 pounds and knocking off two of the biggest names in the class in Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The Cuadras win gave him a version of the WBC title and Rodriguez has vacated to move back down to flyweight. The vacant WBO belt is on the line. Gonzalez (15-1, 5 KO) has only a single loss, a split decision in his seventh start. The undercard is quality with a top-ten clash at Jr. featherweight between unified titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev and former bantamweight titlist Marlon Tapales.
Additional Shows to Watch For
Friday - Bunch vs. Flores (Showtime, 10:00 PM EST)
ShoBox tripleheaders are rarely a bad way to start the boxing weekend. Jr. welterweights get the main event this time around. 27-year old Bryan Flores (23-0-1, 13 KO) will try to keep his unbeaten mark. Flores had seven stoppages in a row before picking up a pair of ten-round decisions. 23-year old Shinard Bunch (20-1-1, 16 KO) lost in his third pro start and is unbeaten since.
Saturday - World Champion Teraji vs. Olascuaga (ESPN+, 3:00 AM EST)
The king at Jr. flyweight had a career year in 2022. 31-year old Kenshiro Teraji (20-1, 12 KO) avenged his only defeat by knockout and unified a pair of titles by knockout one fight later. He was supposed to be aiming for a third belt in the class but an injury presents a green challenger whose danger will be determined in the ring. 24-year old Anthony Olascuaga (5-0, 3 KO) is inexperienced but he’s been matched aggressively and he already has a win over veteran Saul Juarez on his ledger.
Saturday: #3 Fundora vs. Mendoza (Saturday, Showtime, 10:00 PM EST)
The Jr. middleweight division has been a hot spot for more than half a decade. Any hot spot can use a towering inferno. That’s the nickname for a fighter who stands out from the crowd, literally. At nearly 6’6, 25-year old Sebastian Fundora (20-0-1, 13 KO) would be tall in the heavyweight division. Needless to say, he has his peers looking up at 154 lbs. Fundora won one of the best fights of 2022 when he survived a war with Erickson Lubin and could soon find himself the challenger to the winner of Jermall Charlo-Tim Tszyu whenever that gets rescheduled. 29-year old Brian Mendoza (21-2, 15 KO) has never been stopped and enters on a two-fight win streak.
Saturday - Stevenson vs. Yoshino (ESPN, 10:00 PM EST)
Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9 KO) has been nearly untouchable as a professional. He won a belt at featherweight and unified a pair of titles to earn recognition as the lineal king at Jr. lightweight. He couldn’t hold the crown, losing the titles on the scale, and the 25-year old Stevenson continues on at lightweight. It’s a hell of a time to arrive in the division and a win over 31-year old Shuichiro Yoshino (16-0, 12 KO) would be a step toward potentially challenging the winner of Devin Haney-Vasyl Lomachenko.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org