Pick It: Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Jesse Rodriguez

When to Watch: Saturday, June 29. The preliminary undercard begins at 7:15 p.m. Eastern Time (12:15 a.m. BST). The main broadcast begins at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time (2:30 a.m. BST).

How to watch: DAZN

Why to Watch: Estrada is the champion of the 115-pound division, the most super of the super flyweights. He’ll be returning from a lengthy layoff and jumping directly in with Rodriguez, an upstart who’s made a significant splash in a relatively short amount of time.

Rodriguez is a two-division titleholder who caught our attention when he stepped in on short notice in February 2022, outpointing Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC belt. Rodriguez then returned in June 2022 against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai — the former super flyweight champ and the person Rodriguez had replaced against Cuadras. Rodriguez stopped Sor Rungvisai in the eighth.

That meant Rodriguez had taken out two of the division’s “Four Kings.” Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez are the other two. 

Despite his recent track record, Rodriguez is still stepping up by facing Estrada, who’s been at 115 for longer, considers himself to be the bigger man, has the kind of talent that made him a mainstay of pound-for-pound lists, and may be less battleworn than Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai.

We’ll see. We don’t know yet what the final two fights of Estrada’s trilogy with Chocolatito took out of Estrada, who’s now 34 years old and has fought as a pro for nearly 16 years. Did the nearly 19 months away since the last Chocolatito fight provide Estrada with the rejuvenation he needed or the rust that should be avoided?

That win brought “El Gallo” — who hails from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico — to 44-3 (28 KOs). All three of those defeats were later avenged. A 2011 decision loss to Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr was reversed when Estrada knocked Sanchez out seven months later. Estrada was on the short end of a 2018 majority decision against Sor Rungvisai but topped him via unanimous decision in 2019. And Estrada lost a decision to Chocolatito in 2012 but got that back with a hotly debated split decision win in 2021 and a majority decision in 2022. 

Rodriguez had one more fight at 115, defeating Israel Gonzalez in September 2022, before dropping his title and dropping down to flyweight. He captured a vacant world title in the 112-pound weight class while fighting through a broken jaw against Cristian Gonzalez in April 2023 and then unified with a ninth-round TKO of Sunny Edwards last December. Rodriguez, a 24-year-old from San Antonio, is now 19-0 (12 KOs) and ready to move back up to super flyweight.

Will the talented veteran Estrada be able to fend off the younger challenger? Or will Rodriguez seize the throne, sending a message that there are no longer Four Kings at 115 — and that a new one is ready to reign?

The undercard includes flyweight Edwards, 20-1 (4 KOs), against Adrian Curiel, 24-5-1 (5 KOs); Yamileth Mercado, 23-3 (5 KOs), defending her junior featherweight title against Ramla Ali, 9-1 (2 KOs); and a clash between junior featherweight prospects Arturo Cardenas, 13-0-1 (8 KOs), and Danny Barrios, 15-0 (5 KOs).

More Fights to Watch

Thursday, June 27: Darius Fulghum vs. Ronald Ellis (DAZN, 9 p.m. Eastern Time)

Fulghum, an undefeated super middleweight prospect, is testing himself against Ellis, an opponent who has shared the ring with several recognizable names.

Fulghum is a 27-year-old Texan originally from El Paso and now in Houston. He turned pro at the end of 2021 and has gone 11-0 (10 KOs) since. The lone fight to last the distance was against Alantez Fox in January, an ugly fight that Fulghum described both as disappointing and a learning experience. In Fulghum’s last appearance, he stopped Cristian Olivas in four rounds in April.

Ellis, a 34-year-old from outside of Boston, is 18-4-2 (12 KOs). He fought to a draw with undefeated Junior Younan back in 2018, then suffered his first defeat via majority decision against DeAndre Ware in 2019. By the end of the year, Ellis rebounded by being on the better end of a majority decision, taking a victory over Immanuwel Aleem. Ellis followed that up with a TKO4 of Matvey Korobov in December 2020, winning after Korobov hurt his ankle. (Ellis was also massively overweight for that fight.)

That landed Ellis a meeting with David Benavidez in March 2021. Benavidez stopped Ellis in the 11th. So began a three-fight losing streak. Ellis dropped a wide decision to prospect Christian Mbilli in December 2021 and then spent nearly two years out of the ring. He returned last August and was sent packing in the sixth round by another prospect, Erik Bazinyan.

If time, wear and tear haven’t taken too much of a toll, then Ellis can give Fulghum a good test. Fulghum and his team not only want to pass the test, but to see how well he does, and they will no doubt measure this performance against how those other fighters did.

Friday, June 28: Conor Quinn vs. Conner Kelsall (TNT Sports 1, 7 p.m. BST)

Quinn is an unbeaten 26-year-old flyweight from Belfast, Northern Ireland, which means he’ll be fighting in front of his hometown crowd at the SSE Arena. He is 9-0-1 (6 KOs). 

Kelsall has spent much of his career heavier than the 112-pound weight class and will be coming down for this bout. The 25-year-old from Yorkshire, England, is 11-0 (1 KO).

The undercard includes a fight between unbeaten junior welterweight Pierce O’Leary, 14-0 (8 KOs), and Darragh Foley, 22-5-1 (10 KOs). Foley is coming off a decision loss to Jack Catterall about 13 months ago.

Friday, June 28: Lamont Roach Jr. vs. Feargal McCrory (ProBoxTV.com, 8 p.m. Eastern Time)

(Note: BoxingScene.com is owned by ProBox.) 

Roach will be making the first defense of his junior lightweight title. He’ll also be fighting in front of his hometown crowd for the first time since November 2017 — and somehow only his fourth time ever.

The 28-year-old was born in Washington, D.C., and now lives in a neighboring county. This fight will take place at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in D.C., which is home to the city’s WNBA and G League teams.

Roach’s homecoming comes seven months after he took a split decision over Hector Garcia for the WBA belt. That brought Roach to 24-1-1 (9 KOs). His only loss came in his previous title shot, a unanimous decision defeat to Jamel Herring in 2019.

Roach has been eyeing unification bouts with the other titleholders at 130. First he needs to get by McCrory, an unbeaten prospect from Ireland who now fights out of New York. McCrory, 16-0 (8 KOs), hasn’t faced anyone near the level of opposition Roach has been in with. In his past three appearances, McCrory stopped a 24-11 fighter named Eduardo Reis, outpointed a 9-6-1 fighter named Nikolai Buzolin, and put away a 25-7 foe named Carlos Carlson.

Friday, June 28: Elijah Pierce vs. Jose Sanmartin (DAZN, 8 p.m. Eastern Time)

Pierce is a junior featherweight with a record of 19-2 (16 KOs). He’s won 10 straight, and his last three have come against a decent slate of opponents: a unanimous decision over former title challenger Tramaine Williams, a third-round KO of Mike Plania, and a fourth-round TKO of former bantamweight title challenger Arthur Villanueva. The 27-year-old from Oklahoma City had to come off the canvas himself before stopping Villanueva. 

Sanmartin is a 31-year-old from Barranquilla, Colombia. He’s dropped three of his last five: put away quickly by Mauricio Lara, unanimously outpointed by previously unbeaten Kevin Gonzalez in 2023, and on the short end of a split decision against undefeated Shabaz Masoud in 2023. In Sanmartin’s last appearance, he won an eight-rounder on the scorecards against a 15-27-2 foe named Mauricio Martinez.

Their fight will headline at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta.

Friday, June 28: Fernando Vargas Jr. vs. Juan Carlos Cordones (DAZN, 8 p.m. Eastern Time)

Vargas, like his famed namesake, is looking to compete at junior middleweight. 

(Two of Senior’s other sons also fight: Emiliano is the more vaunted of them, an unbeaten junior welterweight prospect who also fights this week, appearing on the Teofimo Lopez undercard. Amado Vargas is an undefeated junior lightweight who has a match scheduled for July 6.)

Fernando Jr. was born in Oxnard, of course, and now lives in Las Vegas. The 27-year-old turned pro at the end of 2020 and is now 14-0 (13 KOs). Most recently, he knocked out the aged and faded version of Brad Solomon in four rounds this past March.

Cordones is a 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic with a record of 14-4 (9 KOs). Those four losses came in his last four appearances, all ending early: a TKO3 against Danielito Zorrilla, a KO1 against Rolando Romero, a TKO4 at the hands of Luis David Salazar, and a TKO3 from Luis Georges.

Given that Cordones is naturally smaller than his A-side opponent, one should expect that Vargas Jr. will extend his opponent’s losing streak.

Their fight is at Southwest University Park, a baseball stadium in El Paso, Texas.

Friday, June 28: Mandeep Jangra vs. Josue Cadena (BLK Prime pay-per-view, 7 p.m. Eastern Time)

Jangra is an undefeated junior lightweight prospect originally from India who now lives in Miami. The 31-year-old is 10-0 (7 KOs) and headlining at the Legends Casino Hotel in Toppenish, Washington. 

His opponent is Cadena, who hails from up the road in the Seattle suburb of Auburn. The 20-year-old is 5-0 (3 KOs).

Friday, June 28: Christopher Lovejoy vs. Kendall Mayes-Taylor (TrillerTV.com, 9 p.m. Eastern Time)

Lovejoy once was in position to challenge for a secondary WBA heavyweight title, a ludicrous reality that is less of a reflection of Lovejoy’s talent — or lack thereof — and more of an indictment of how the boxing business functions. His record shows 19 straight wins against no-hopers in Tijuana with a combined record of 51-193-19. That somehow landed him a fight with Mahmoud Charr.

Reality quickly set in. Charr needed just four minutes to dispatch Lovejoy. Since then, Lovejoy returned to Tijuana to face someone who is 8-31-3 and then fought to a draw in Egypt against a foe who was 4-8. 

Lovejoy, who is now 40 years old, has a record of 20-1-1 (20 KOs). Mayes-Taylor is 0-3, and those losses have all come between middleweight and light heavyweight. BoxRec lists Mayes-Taylor as being suspended indefinitely in Tijuana and California.

How is this a thing? I don’t know what’s worse: whatever promoter and athletic commission allows it, or whomever among us decides to watch it without a sense of morbid curiosity.

Friday, June 28: Raphael Akpejiori vs. Alexis Garcia (TrillerTV.com, 9 p.m. Eastern Time)

Akpejiori is a 6-foot-8 heavyweight from Nigeria who was blasted out in two rounds by Arslanbek Makhmudov last year. Since then, Akpejiori has notched two wins to move to 17-1 (16 KOs). 

Garcia is a rotund heavyweight on a 6-foot-1 frame. He hails from the Dominican Republic, where this card is taking place. Garcia lost via fifth-round TKO to Zhan Kossobutskiy in November 2021, returned a year later with a split decision over an 18-9 opponent, and hasn’t fought since. His record is 12-1 (7 KOs).

Saturday, June 29: Teofimo Lopez vs. Steve Claggett (ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+, 10 p.m. Eastern Time. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, this broadcast will be on Sky Sports beginning at 3 a.m. BST)

Lopez is not only the WBO titleholder. He’s also the lineal junior welterweight champion, the man atop the throne by virtue of his 2023 unanimous decision victory over Josh Taylor. There are a lot of talented 140-pounders out there in this deep division. Claggett wasn’t on that list.

“Unlike these other supposed champs at 140, Steve Claggett is the only fighter who raised his hand and stepped up to challenge me,” Lopez claimed in a press release quote attributed to him. “No other fighters were interested in getting in the ring with me.”

Lopez was the champ at 135 before this, following his big win over Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020. He lost in his first defense, suffering a huge upset against George Kambosos in 2021. Lopez then moved up to 140, stopped Pedro Campa in seven rounds in August 2022 and then struggled to a split decision over Sandor Martin in December 2022.

Lopez turned things around with his win over Taylor. But his last appearance, a unanimous decision over Jamaine Ortiz this past February, failed to impress.

Will Lopez, now 20-1 (13 KOs), perform up to his capabilities on Saturday at the James L. Knight Center in Miami? Or will the 26-year-old from Brooklyn have another disappointing showing?

Claggett, a 35-year-old from Alberta, is 38-7-2 (26 KOs).

“This is going to be a tough fight,” Lopez said in a press release. “A lot of people look at Claggett’s record and think I'm going to fight a nobody, but he hasn’t lost in three years. He has fought former champions. He always comes to fight and throws a lot of punches. I need to be in great condition to battle a fighter like him. I can’t overlook him, get overconfident, and play around with him.”

On the undercard, former featherweight titleholder Robeisy Ramirez, 13-2 (8 KOs), returns for the first time since losing his belt to Rafael Espinoza in a majority decision defeat last December. The 30-year-old from Cuba will face Brandon Leon Benitez, 21-2 (9 KOs). Benitez, a 26-year-old from Mexico, has won seven straight since a 2019 loss to Saul Sanchez.

And the show opens with Nico Ali Walsh, a middleweight who is one of Muhammad Ali’s grandsons. Ali Walsh is 9-1 (5 KOs) and facing the man who gave him that lone defeat, Sona Akale. Last August, Akale won a six-round majority decision. Each has scored a subsequent victory. Akale is now 9-1 (4 KOs).

Saturday, June 29: Marco Huck vs. Evgenios Lazaridis (DAZN, 3 p.m. Eastern Time / 8 p.m. BST)

Huck, a former cruiserweight titleholder, will be back in the ring for the first time since August 2020. He’ll be fighting at heavyweight, the division Huck has exclusively called home since 2018 — and where he lost a world title fight to Alexander Povetkin via majority decision way back in 2012.

Otherwise, Huck — born in the former Yugoslavia and living in Berlin now — was best known for his time in the 200-pound weight class. He reigned there from 2009-2015 before being stopped by Krzysztof Glowacki, then lost a pair of title fights to Mairis Briedis (UD12) and Oleksandr Usyk (TKO10) in 2017. Then came his sporadic appearances at heavyweight, one apiece in 2018, 2019 and 2020, bringing his record to 42-5-1 (28 KOs).

Since then? A fight with Joe Joyce was called off. A proposed bout with Agit Kabayel never took place. An injury scuttled a return appearance in 2023. All of which adds up to 46 months out of the ring. Huck is now 39 years old, past his prime and beyond his best weight class.

Lazaridis, originally from Athens and now living in Frankfurt, is 19-5 (13 KOs). The 36-year-old stands tall at 6-foot-6 but has come up short when he steps up. Recent defeats include a decision loss to Kabayel in 2020, a first-round TKO at the hands of prospect Oleksandr Zakhozhyi in 2022, and a wide loss on the scorecards against prospect Mourad Aliev in 2023. Lazaridis returned this past April, making quick work of a foe with an incredible record of 1-9.

This fight will take place at the Estrel Congress Center in Berlin.

Saturday, June 29: Jack Rafferty vs. Sabari Jaishankar (DAZN, 2 p.m. Eastern Time / 7 p.m. BST)

Rafferty is an undefeated prospect from Manchester, England who’s fought between junior welterweight and junior middleweight. This match will be right in the 147-pound weight class. The 28-year-old is 22-0 (13 KOs), though this will be just his seventh opponent with a winning record. Rafferty was last seen in December, living up to his “Demolition Man” nickname with a two-minute TKO of a 19-7-1 foe named Lee Appleyard.

For this main event at the Liverpool Olympia, Rafferty will take on Jaishankar, a 27-year-old from Chennai, India, who is 11-2 (5 KOs). Jaishankar suffered that second defeat in April 2023, knocked out in eight rounds by Fatih Keles. Since then, Jaishankar has put together two straight wins, stopping one foe in five rounds and taking a 10-round unanimous decision over the other.

Saturday, June 29: Danny Quartermaine vs. Karim Guerfi (DAZN, time TBA)

This fight is supposedly being broadcast on DAZN but wasn’t listed on the streaming website’s schedule as this article went to press.

Quartermaine, a 26-year-old from Warwick, England, is an undefeated junior lightweight. He’s coming off a win over Alex Rat to move to 11-0 (4 KOs). 

Guerfi is a 37-year-old from France who spent much of his career in the lower weight classes. After losing in less than a round to Lee McGregor in 2021, Guerfi jumped from bantamweight to featherweight. He was in a fun fight in 2022, dropping Jordan Gill in the seventh but getting knocked down and out himself in the ninth. Two fights later, Guerfi was dispatched in 154 seconds by Michael Conlan. He last fought about a year ago, winning a unanimous decision against an unheralded foe to move to 32-7 (9 KOs).

The undercard includes a fight between undefeated junior featherweights Nyall Berry, 10-0 (4 KOs), and Francesco De Rosa, 8-0 (5 KOs), plus an appearance by heavyweight Hughie Fury against a foe yet to be announced.

Follow David Greisman on Twitter @FightingWords2. His book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” is available on Amazon.