SAN ANTONIO – A recurring theme has developed with shows headlined by Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez.
This weekend will mark the third straight time that San Antonio’s Rodriguez will headline a multi-title fight show and his second straight in his hometown. The 23-year-old former WBC junior bantamweight titlist aims to become a two-division title claimant as he faces Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez for the vacant WBO flyweight strap.
The bout tops a DAZN quadrupleheader this Saturday from Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio, Texas. The same venue hosted Rodriguez’s first headliner last June 25, an event that carried three title fights and an undercard loaded with attractive matchups. The same is applied to his latest local headlining act.
“This really is a great fuckin’ show,” Eddie Hearn, head of lead event promoter Matchroom Boxing, told BoxingScene.com. “There aren’t any international superstar names on the show, though Bam is well on his way. But it’s filled with fan-friendly fights that we’ve worked hard to make our brand particularly in knowledgeable boxing markets like this community.
“These are the shows where I can’t want to take my seat and watch every fight. It’s a show I can talk with passion about and let everyone know to tune in.”
The second title fight of the night pits unified WBA/IBF junior featherweight titlist Murodjon ‘MJ’ Akhmadaliev (11-0, 8KOs) versus IBF mandatory title challenger and former WBO bantamweight titleholder Marlon Tapales (36-3, 19KOs).
The pre-fight feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for the two preliminary bouts on the main card. Rising featherweight Raymond ‘Savage’ Ford (13-0-1, 7KOs) faces former WBO junior featherweight titlist Jessie Magdaleno (29-1, 18KOs) in a textbook crossroads bout that has featured the most animosity among the eight-fight lineup. Opening the DAZN show, resurgent junior lightweight Thomas Mattice (20-3-1, 15KOs) meets Mexico’s Ramiro Cesena (16-0-1, 13KOs), who makes his U.S. debut.
Ironically, the evening’s main event is the only fight of the night perceived to be a mismatch from a betting perspective. Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) is a -3300 favorite to turn away Gonzalez (15-1, 6KOs), to the point where much of the pre-fight chatter has centered on a future potential unification bout with IBF flyweight titlist Sunny Edwards (19-0, 4KOs).
Still, Rodriguez has remained the talk of the town throughout fight week though carrying it in his usual humble manner. The one deterrent on his part is a second straight hometown event where he can’t take in every moment.
“It was like that last time, too,” Rodriguez joked to BoxingScene.com. “I tried to watch some of the early fights but then I had to get ready and missed a few that I really wanted to see. This show is like that, too. I’ll have to watch everything when I get home, but it will feel good when the crowd is charged up from the undercard. Shows like this motivate me to shine even brighter.”
Locally history will be established with a Rodriguez victory, as he will become San Antonio’s first-ever multi-division titlist. Bigger plans are in store for the sport’s first 2000-born champ, which is why Matchroom felt compelled to work even harder to deliver a fight fan’s type of show.
“The goals we have in store for Jesse is why we like to load up these cards with matchups like we have this Saturday,” noted Hearn. “If you can get your position in this market for delivering great fight cards, there’s a lot to be said especially a knowledgeable community like this one. We’re getting that reputation and it’s important to us.
Bam is in a weight class where, while he’s making very good money for his fights, we’re not in position where we have to pay overinflated purses.
“That allows us to invest in the card and make great matchups. MJ versus Tapales could have headlined any card. Ford versus Magdaleno is a great matchup that could’ve even headlined a smaller show. Mattice versus Cesena will be an absolute fuckin’ war. The ‘Before The Bell’ show could have been a card on its own. This is an event that’s just gelled really well.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox