Srisaket-sur-Rongefsay falls ill and Jesse Rodriguez moves to save the show against Carlos Quadras, writes Jon Dennin
The top end of the super flyweight can be counted on to deliver excitement. The squad leaders may have entered the final years of their careers, but they’re still great fighters with long-running rivalries and joint battles behind them. But there is also room for newcomers. In less than a week, Jesse Rodriguez steps in to wrestle Carlos Quadras, one of the top statesmen in the weight class, on Saturday (February 5) at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
The wonderful Srisaket Sor Rungvisai should have been taking part in this battle. But with the Thais falling ill unrelated to Covid, and hospitalized, just days before the fight, he was forced to withdraw.
Lightweight Jesse Rodriguez was to box on the same sheet of paper and bravely agreed to save the show and enter the main event.
Rodriguez is a young man of only 22 years old, but he is undefeated in 14 fights, 10 of which he finished inside the distance. During a pandemic, fights run the risk of falling out any moment before the first bell rings. Super flyweight leader, world champion Juan Francisco Estrada for example, is currently absent from action as he seeks to recover from a match with Covid.
Promoter Eddie Hearn was happy to put this fight together with a little time left. “Once again, my hat is off to Carlos and Jesse and their teams to make it happen,” Hearn said. “Both campers and fighters hastened to organize this battle together after Srisaket fell ill and unable to fight, we wish him well.
“But what a battle ahead. Carlos has the chance to become twice [WBC belt-holder] And look at the winner in [Román González-Julio Cesar Martinez] Fighting, Jesse has been nibbling a bit for a world title, and victory on Saturday night leads him into the mix in massive fights in 2022.
“Lower weights have always connected us and fate may have sent us another barn burner.”
Quadras are experienced. He fought at the highest level for years. He’s defeated Rungvisai before, all the way back in 2014, even if it was a technical decision after eight rounds once a bad crack opened on Quadras’ left eye. He went from that to rule the division’s other mainstays, losing a decision to Roman Gonzalez in a massive 2016 battle and fighting Estrada twice.
But Quadras has been inactive since his last fights, when he cornered Estrada in 2020. That was still exciting. Quadras had put his compatriot in early, whipping him off his feet with an amazing combination of top right and left hook. This prompted Estrada to dominate the fight and the brave Cuadras to defeat in Round 11 of an injury suspension.
That was his 44th professional fight, and at 33, he was a decade older than Rodriguez. Age, as well as the wear and tear from that long career, could catch up to him at any moment. It makes it difficult to predict this match, as the health of Rodriguez and Quadras, a veteran who has not practiced boxing regularly in the past two years, has not been proven true.
In HS’s last fight, Cuadras tended to stick to his position with Estrada. Although he had some success, and was also against the best in the department, this is an indication that Quadras’ legs weren’t quite as playful as they used to be. Rodríguez is a southern tower, like the Rungvisai, and can shoot sharply with defiance. But on paper, Quadras must have more experience and power than would be necessary for the younger man. Rodriguez’s time will eventually come, but this contest could be too soon.
The lightweight WBC free belt is on the line for the winner.
“That’s what I wish the most in the world, to be a hero again. Whoever was in my way, it was supposed to be Rongvesai but he got sick, so we have Jesse and I am ready,” Quadras said. “As the battle progresses, you will see my experience show. I’ve seen Jesse fight and I know he’s a great fighter, I’ll be careful but more than anything, I’ll give him his medicine.
“I expect the best from him and me. I think Jesse is going to be ready and be strong, so he doesn’t come down quickly. I will give my best like I do in every fight.”
“Don’t hesitate to take this fight,” Rodriguez said. “The opportunity came at 115 pounds for the WBC title, and who would miss that? We are ready for it.
“Size is not an issue. A lot of people say I have to gain weight to go up to 115lbs, but I’m going around 130 so I had to lose weight as I’m 108lbs so 115lbs would be just another nice performance.
“This is my moment, I was born to perform and on Saturday night, a star will be born.”
On the bottom card of DAZN, Jimmy Mitchell, who came to the UK to beat Shannon Courtenay, made another Briton position. Liverpool’s Carly Skelly travels to Arizona to challenge Mitchell, who holds the WBA superweight belt. “This shot just came out of nowhere and I totally make up for it. It’s an opportunity I’ll take with both hands,” Skelly said. “As soon as I saw the message about the fight, I didn’t even process it, I wanted this fight 100 percent. I was in the fight in Liverpool when Jimmy and Shannon were fighting, and I wanted to call the winner to the fight.
“I’ve had a draw before and didn’t get along with it, so I know I have to go and do my best to win this belt. I’m a fighter, I’m going to go ahead and make it hard, I have a lot more about me than just work rate. I have skills and I’m going to show them all on Saturday.”
judgment Superweight is the department that keeps on giving.