SAN ANTONIO – Eddie Hearn believes he has all the pieces in place to carry out his vision of crowning an undisputed flyweight king.
Matchroom Boxing recently signed IBF flyweight titlist Sunny Edwards to a promotional pact, barely a week ahead of Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez’s quest to become a two-division major titleholder. Rodriguez—who is co-promoted by Matchroom and Teiken Promotions—drops down in weight to face Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez for the vacant WBO flyweight title this Saturday on DAZN from Boeing Center at Tech Port in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
A win by Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) is expected to trigger a direct unification bout with England’s Edwards (19-0, 4KOs) later this summer in the U.S.
“The whole reason Jesse gave up the belt at 115 was to win all the belts at 112,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com. “We got a ready-made unification with Sunny Edwards for Bam if wins this weekend. That’s why we signed him. He’s a brilliant fighter. He could possibly run through the entire division, to be quite honest. But Bam is an exceptional talent as well.
“It’s a terrific matchup to do over here. That’s the type of fight we could bring to a bigger venue.”
Edwards does not presently have a fight scheduled but is already committed to challenging Rodriguez, whom nearly everyone expects to win this weekend.
“Best of luck [S]aturday, I will be rooting for you,” Edwards tweeted in a social media exchange with Robert Garcia, Rodriguez’s head trainer.
The plan is for Rodriguez to drop down to flyweight from junior bantamweight were spoken into existence immediately after his previous hometown headliner last June.
Garcia was on record stating that his rising young star initially intended to first win a title at junior flyweight, then flyweight and onto junior bantamweight. The order was reshuffled once Rodriguez had the opportunity to challenge for the WBC junior bantamweight title, which he did in a twelve-round win over former WBC titlist Carlos Cuadras last February 5.
Rodriguez remained at the weight for his first title defense, which came at the same venue hosting this weekend’s event (Saturday, DAZN, 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. local time). The win was his most notable to date, an eighth-round knockout of former two-time WBC 115-pound king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai last June 25 to solidify his place among the junior bantamweight elite.
Ironically, it came at a time when his team already envisioned a move down to flyweight.
Rodriguez made one more successful defense, a twelve-round win over Israel ‘Jiga’ Gonzalez last September 17 before shutting everything down for the rest of the year. The reset period included his agreeing to vacate the WBC 115-pound title while successfully petitioning the WBO to next challenge for its flyweight title that was relinquished at that same time by Junto Nakatani.
Matchroom already had long-reigning WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez, a prior target of Edwards.
WBA titlist Artem Dalakian (22-0, 15KOs) is the lone fighter of the bunch not under the Matchroom banner. However, his team is on board for a title unification after his successfully defending the belt for the sixth time with a twelve-round win over unbeaten mandatory challenger David Jimenez on January 28 in London.
Mexico City’s Martinez (19-2, 14KOs)—co-promoted by Matchroom and Canelo Promotions—is coming off a twelve-round decision victory over Spain’s Samuel Cardona last December 3 in Glendale, Arizona. His next fight will come in an oft-rescheduled title consolidation bout with interim titleholder McWilliams Arroyo on the undercard of training and promotional stablemate Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on May 6 in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico.
“After that, I want him to fight Dalakian,” insisted Hearn. “Maybe later this summer, early (fall), sometime around or shortly after the Bam Rodriguez-Sunny Edwards unification. Then I want him to fight Dalakian.
“From there, the winners fight the winners to become undisputed. It’s not rocket science, they’re all right there to be made. The beauty is, they’re all brilliant fights.”
Rodriguez, of course, needs to turn away the challenge of the visiting Gonzalez (15-1, 6KOs) to claim the vacant WBO flyweight title. The odds are heavily in his favor, as the unbeaten 23-year-old is listed by bet365 sportsbook as a massive -3300 betting favorite to prevail.
“Jesse, of course, has to get through Saturday,” acknowledged Hearn. “But he and Robert on board with this.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox