Bam Rodriguez made San Antonio proud in title-winning victory
By Matthew Reyna: San Antonio is a city that has long been spoiled by athletic success.
The Spurs dynasty led by Tim Duncan won five championships and made the NBA playoffs 22 consecutive times from 1998 to 2019.
A decade after its inception, the University of Texas at San Antonio football program secured the Conference USA championship and a coveted 12-win season this year.
And last Saturday night, a new local sporting sensation was born when Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez defeated Carlos Cuadras by unanimous decision to win his first world championship. It was a historic victory. At age 22, he is the first boxer born in the 21st century to win a world title.
“San Antonio, this is for you,” Rodriguez told the crowd after being announced as the winner.
In a turn of events that would be better suited for a movie script, Rodriguez took the fight on six days’ notice and moved up two weight classes for his shot at boxing glory.
Against Cuadras, Rodriguez boxed beautifully for twelve rounds and punctuated his win with a knockdown in the third round. In only his 15th professional bout and first world title opportunity, Rodriguez fought like a ring veteran showcasing a dazzling arsenal of skills.
Cuadras, the 33-year old former champion, came into the fight with 30 more professional fights than Rodriguez, including ten world title fights. His experience proved to be no match for Bam’s angles and explosiveness.
After his victory, Rodriguez received an outpouring of support, including congratulatory tweets from Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence, boxing superstar Ryan Garcia, and even San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
“With SAN ANTONIO printed on the back of his trunks, [Rodriguez] just took the world super flyweight title,” wrote Mayor Nirenberg. “Congrats, champ!”
Rodriguez’s talent and fan-friendly style is already leading some experts to place him at the forefront of boxing’s next generation of superstars. A video of his third-round knockdown against Cuadras has now been viewed more than 250,000 times on social media.
His promoter Eddie Hearn told journalists after the fight that Rodriguez now ranks among the best boxers in the world.
“He’s good—really good. [There’s] no need for him to slow down. I feel he can beat anybody right now,” Hearn said.
In a post-fight interview, Hearn said he would be interested in bringing Rodriguez to San Antonio for his first title defense, possibly in a super fight against fellow champion Juan Francisco Estrada.
A homecoming showdown between Rodriguez and Estrada has the potential to be a significant international sporting event. Recruiting Rodriguez’s brother and fellow world champion Joshua Franco to fight on the undercard would make it a local extravaganza and a special night for San Antonio’s large contingency of boxing fans.
Whatever comes next for “Bam,” he will surely have the support of his community after last Saturday’s tremendous performance. He is already among the best boxers San Antonio has ever seen, and at 22, he is just getting started.
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