By: Hans Themistode
Jesse Rodriguez knew it was only a matter of time before he became a world champion. But, the 22-year-old had no idea his time was coming so soon.
The San Antonio Texas native didn’t hesitate in the slightest when he was given the last-minute call to compete in the main event at Footprint Center in Phoenix Arizona against former multiple-time champion Carlos Cuadras for the vacant 115 super flyweight WBC title.
Despite moving up two weight divisions, Rodriguez had little to no trouble dealing with his much more experienced foe.
In the opening frame, a confident Rodriguez marched to the center of the ring and attempted to hold his ground. However, he was completely befuddled in those first few minutes. With the help of unique angles and relentless body shots, Cuadras appeared to bank round one.
Even with Rodriguez fighting on the big stage for the first time in his career, he appeared composed in the following round. He started the period strong, landing crisp right hands down the center. With a minute and a half remaining in the period, Rodriguez landed the best and most explosive blow of the night, a crushing left that floored Cuadras.
Though he appeared dazed, Cuadras picked himself up off the deck and began trading blows with his much younger opponent. As the midway point of their contest crept by, Cuadras attempted to apply pressure in an effort to break his man down. Try as he might, Rodriguez simply bounced up and down on his toes and continued to push the pace. The baby-faced 22-year-old punished the former champ, landing thudding rights and lefts across his already marked face.
With a world title only minutes away, Rodriguez went into cruise control. Though he boxed cautiously on the outside, Cuadras seamlessly cut off the ring and pinned his man against the ropes. A consistent barrage of shots to the midsection made Rodriguez wince in agony.
In the final three minutes of their showdown, Cuadras once again attempted to fluster his man against the ropes. This time, however, it was to no avail as Rodriguez met the former titlist with his own offense.
With both fighters throwing leather until the final bell, Rodriguez leaped onto the ropes following the conclusion of their contest. Moments later, his championship dreams were realized as he was handed a unanimous decision victory by the scores of 115-113 and matching scorecards of 117-110,
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