Jesse Rodriguez is relishing his role as the co-main attraction to the trilogy blockbuster between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, as he makes his second defense of his WBC World Super-Flyweight title against Israel Gonzalez.
Rodriguez (16-0 11 KOs) has enjoyed a stellar first half of the year, starting by becoming the youngest active World champion in February, stepping in late to meet Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC strap in Phoenix and then putting on a stunning display in his first defense, stopping Thai star Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on his San Antonio home turf in June inside eight rounds.
Those performances saw the San Antonio talent named as ESPN’s Fighter of the Year in their midyear boxing awards, and while ‘Bam’ spoke of his pride at the honor, he’s determined to show that there is much more to come in his calendar.
The 22 year old has lofty ambitions to unify divisions and win crowns at multiple weights, and says that meeting Gonzalez (28-4-1 11 KOs) on the biggest stage he’s performed on to date will only shine a bigger light on his limitless potential.
“I don’t feel pressure because I feel I was born for this,” said Rodriguez. “I belong on these big stages, it’s where I feel comfortable. Headlining in San Antonio, co-main to Canelo-GGG III, this is where I want to be, it’s been part of the plan and it’s great to see it play out. There’s expectation on me, all eyes are on me, I know that I need to perform at my best but that excites me.
“Canelo is the face of boxing so to be the curtain raiser for that fight is amazing, so many fans are going to be able to see what I can do. I’m only 22 so to be doing the things that I am doing, beating Carlos and Rungvisai, two of the four kings at Super-Fly, I never look back and feel I need to appreciate what I do, but I do downplay what I do because I’m a humble guy.
“I’m right where I need to be, it’s just the beginning and the sky is the limit for me. I can’t tell you how far I can go because I don’t know how to stop. I want to be one of those fighters that 20 years from now, people say; ‘remember Bam Rodriguez, he was a bad dude’. One of those legends.
“I feel like I’m getting the recognition that I deserve, and Saturday is the perfect platform to show everybody that I am the real deal.”
Rodriguez’s clash with Gonzalez is part of a huge night of action in Vegas, topped by the epic trilogy battle between Canelo and Golovkin.