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Fight Picks: Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Jesse Rodriguez

Fight Picks: Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Jesse Rodriguez

On Saturday, junior bantamweight Ring champion and WBC titlist Juan Francisco Estrada will put his belts on the line against two-division rising star Jesse Rodriguez at the Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona.

The intriguing match up will be broadcast on DAZN along with supporting undercard bouts from 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.

Estrada came of age in a losing effort to former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez (UD 12) in November 2012. He rebounded to win WBA and WBO 112-pound titles at the expense of Brian Viloria (SD 12). After making five defenses, Estrada abdicated his throne for a move up to junior bantamweight.

After losing to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (MD 12), he outboxed the big-punching Thai to claim the Ring and WBC junior bantamweight titles in the rematch. He made three defenses, edging old rival Gonzalez (SD 12) who held the WBA title, in a classic and spent time on the mythical pound-for-pound lists. “El Gallo” had his WBA and WBC titles taken when he spent 18 months on the sidelines. When he returned he was given a harder than expected time against Argi Cortes (UD 12). However, the 34-year-old returned to form, boxing to an early lead and holding off Gonzalez (UD 12) to pick up the vacant WBC title in their trilogy fight but hasn’t fought since.

Rodriguez, rated at No. 9 by The Ring pound-for-pound, was a decorated amateur at junior level before turning professional at 17. “Bam” worked his way through the junior flyweight rankings and was a highly touted prospect when he appeared on ESPN during the pandemic.

The Texan was given the opportunity to jump two weight classes and face savvy former titleholder Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC title. He made the most of his big chance, dropping Cuadras en route to claiming a 12-round unanimous decision. He went on to make two defenses, notably stopping Sor Rungvisai (TKO 8). He decided to drop down in weight and picked up the vacant WBO title but suffered a broken jaw in the process against Cristian Gonzalez (UD 12). Last time out, he stopped Sunny Edwards (RTD 9) to add the IBF title before electing to vacate both titles to move back up to 115-pounds.

Estrada (44-3, 28 knockouts) will be fighting for the first time in 18 months. Although he’s had similarly long layoffs previously, it’s not ideal. Will the inactivity affect the Mexican? Meanwhile, Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) is in great form and coming off a career-best win against Edwards. For Rodriguez, this is another step up and the best fighter he’s shared a ring with. Estrada has seen it all and done it all. Will the edge in experience be too much for Rodriguez? Every elite fighter has that one last great performance in them. Could Rodriguez be that for Estrada? Will Rodriguez’s southpaw footwork be too much for Estrada to deal with at this stage of his career?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Rodriguez as an 2/9 (-450) favorite, while Estrada is priced at 16/5 (+320); the draw is 16/1 (+1600).

Here’s how the experts see it:



“This looks to me like a passing-of-the-torch fight. Estrada hasn’t fought in 18 months which is hardly the best preparation for Rodriguez, in that time “Bam” has come into his own and is now a two-weight world champion who is also on many people’s pound-for-pound list. Aside from the inactivity, Estrada will be hampered by the 10-year age difference. You should never write someone of Estrada’s quality off. And while I think it’ll be an excellent fight, the younger, fresher fighter will have too much speed and that will offset the guile of Estrada, who I think will have moments but not enough to win. I think Rodriguez will win a 12-round unanimous decision.”


“If both men are at their best, Rodriguez-Estrada could well produce Fight-of-the-Year quality action because, at least on paper, their styles appear made for one another. But while Rodriguez is coming off an excellent effort against Sunny Edwards, there’s no guarantee that Estrada will be at his best because his most recent fight against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez took place in December 2022 and also because 34 remains an elevated age for the lower weight classes. That’s even more true for Estrada, who has been through more than his share of wars. I believe Rodriguez has the skill set and the talent to make Estrada look every day of his 34 years, and while Estrada will be ready and willing, I’m not sure he will be able to stave off a primed Rodriguez for all 12 rounds, much less win the fight.”


“A lot of positive signs (youth, momentum and more) could point towards a win by Rodriguez, but “El Gallo” has much more than just experience and grit. He’s a veteran who always finds a spot to focus on and who hardly makes the same mistake twice. If “Bam” manages to drop him at least once, then Estrada may be in trouble later in the scorecards. In a stand-up fight to the finish, though, I like Estrada by a close but clear decision win.”


“I so much admiration for Juan Estrada, but man are things working against the war horse for this fight. At 34 Estrada is near the end of his viability at elite level, he has been out of the ring for 18 months, and is facing a young phenom who is getting better with every fight. Add to this a 10-year age difference, and no discernable difference in size… in fact, it is hard to any physical advantage for Estrada. Despite all that, Estrada is a live underdog in this fight because of his vast experience and that he has never been outclassed despite facing Hall of Fame level foes. I see Estrada edging the first two or three rounds, then Bam’s superior speed and reflexes negate the boxing IQ of Estrada. After that Rodriguez’s own high level boxing acumen enters the fray, and the table is completely turned, leading to a lopsided unanimous decision victory in the 10 round to 2 vicinity… with a knockdown thrown in for good measure.”


“This is a classic “old vs new” matchup that has given us so many great fights throughout boxing history. I believe this bout will live up to the hype, with plenty of back and forth action. But, in the end, “Bam” is a decade younger and has been more active lately. I like the southpaw from Texas to beat the Mexican by unanimous decision in a thrilling affair. Rodriguez 116-112.”


“Bam is entering his prime; Estrada is exiting his. Only time separates them. But there’s a lot of that. A whole decade, in fact. Bam is 24, Estrada 34. The accomplished Estrada has seen it all, including 36 rounds against Roman Gonzalez, the all-time great in the lightest divisions. Estrada, who won two narrow decisions over Gonzalez, has an unrivalled skillset, but he’s catching Bam at exactly the wrong time. Bam’s documented power and improving skillset are maturing into a deadly, pound-for-pound mix. Estrada’s knowhow over his many years against the best is enough for him to survive, but not win on scorecards that – in the end — will belong to Bam.”

Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez trade blows during their Ring/WBA/WBC junior bantamweight title unification fight at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. – Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.



“Don’t you just love it when the small men take center stage in this WBC world title fight. Bam Rodriguez will challenge Estrada for his belt and I cannot wait. I have changed my mind so many times on the outcome. Experience is up against youth, but can Rodriguez do what he has been doing in beating champions? This young rising star is a joy to watch. Sure there are other young talented prospects and champions but this kid has something special. His concentration, balance, timing, accuracy isn’t something you would associate with a young fighter. So many qualities packed into one person. He is up against a wily old fox, who can bite you down with a lapse of concentration or a missed punch. Estrada is battle hardened and is the Bernard Hopkins of the junior bantamweight division. He has every trick in the book, he faints, bobs and weaves, can turn you around in the blink of an eye before going on the attack. I wish this fight was a draw, I have the upmost respect for these two. I’m going with Bam via a spit decision.”


“In and out of the ring, boxing is all about timing. While Estrada is a formidable opponent, the fact is that he’s 34 years old and has contested 47 professional fights – many of them wars – over 16 years. The champ is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he’s also a lot closer to the end than the beginning. Bam is the youngest world champion in boxing today. At 24 years old, he’s in the prime of his life and he’s the more active fighter by far. Not only is the challenger younger and fresher, but he has terrific talent, packs a punch and he’s hungry to create the kind of legacy Estrada established a long time ago. I foresee Estrada boxing and moving and he’ll build a lead early. However, the younger man will be applying plenty of pressure and looking to drain his opponent’s resources. The fight will have changed by round five and the champion will be out-punched in most of the exchanges. It’s beyond unusual for me to pick against Estrada, particularly by stoppage, but I think the 19-month layoff will come back to haunt him here.”


“I’m a big believer that activity matters. Well, in Estrada you have a guy who has not fought since December of 2022 (when he defeated Roman Gonzalez), and my belief is that Estrada’s no longer in his prime. While on the opposite end of the spectrum is ‘Bam’ who is not only a fighter who is entering his physical prime at age 24, has elite skills and already has a resume that is top notch. Youth will be served here. Estrada will be in this fight early, but as the rounds go on Rodriguez will steadily separate himself from the ‘el Gallo’ and win a clear unanimous decision.”


“Incredible fight between two of the best in the world, Juan Francisco Estrada has fought everyone at junior bantamweight and will be looking to make his sixth consecutive title defense. I think both fighters will have their moments throughout the fight, the biggest difference in my opinion is the activity between the two. Bam is the younger fighter by 10 years, and also has managed to stay active, while Estrada is the elder at 34 years old, and has not fought in about 18 months. Jesse will need to jump on him early to steal those first couple of rounds, rather than let Juan shake off the ring rust and get into a rhythm. I am siding with Jesse Rodriguez to win a razor thin decision, in what should be a Fight of the Year candidate when all said and done.”


“Reminders of Chiquita Gonzalez vs. Michael Carbajal, A Battle of Little Giants. Estrada brings power and experience while Bam while youth and talent. Very good fight that I plan to attend. I see this as a true passing of the torch, Estrada as dominate as he has been with a one strong behind Bam who is too sharp, fast and on point. I can see the corner stopping the fight late or widely unanimous decision.”

Jesse Rodriguez (right) grew up fast during his late-notice title shot vs. veteran Carlos Cuardras on February 5 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom Boxing

Jesse Rodriguez (right) grew up fast during his late-notice title shot vs. veteran Carlos Cuardras on February 5 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom Boxing


“Bam wants to win or it’s not gonna make me look very good is it [Laughs.] I think Bam’s gonna outbox him to start and as Estrada starts slowing I think Bam gonna go up the gears. Bam KO 10-12.”


“I’m taking Bam. I think his ring IQ, determination, his ability to get on angles and level changes would be the big difference in the fight. Bam by unanimous decision.”


“It could be Fight of the Year. I’ve witnessed Estrada up close as I was at ringside at the forum when he beat the Thai fighter, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, for the world title in a return fight, a thriller, after losing to him previously. He’s boxed everyone in his weight category, Chocolatito, Cuadras etc. he’s such a clever box fighter, can punch with both hands also. I’m a fan of his. I’m also a fan of Bam, he’s clever and can punch, great rhythm, he’s younger and so much less experienced but more fresher. This is one fight I would love to be a ringside spectator for but I happen to have two young fighters on same night in the U.K. otherwise I would’ve gone over. I’m going for Bam in a very close fight to win a split decision.”


“This has the makings of an instant classic as both have extremely fan friendly styles. I know Bam has been sparring Chocolatito and the rounds have been going amazing. I’m going for the youth of Rodriguez, in a coming-out party.”


“I believe this fight is all about timing. I’ve been a fan of Estrada over the years but this fight is perfect timing for Bam to dethrone a legend. Estrada has been extremely inactive over the last 4-years and it has shown in his previous performances. Having been out the ring now for almost 19 months, I believe this will cost Estrada badly and Bam will win this fight convincingly. Bam by wide unanimous decision or possibly a late stoppage.”


“I fancy Bam. The younger man coming off a good win, confidence is high and I think Estrada’s inactivity won’t help either.”


“This fight is at 115-pounds and could turn out to be a classic fight with both guys giving everything for the win. It could even end up with the fighters fighting a trilogy. Estrada comes to fight and has a good engine to keep him going in the later rounds. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez is a southpaw who fights non-stop and just like Estrada, he has knockout power in each hand. I think the action will be mostly toe-to-toe with neither guy giving ground to the other. Estrada will push Rodriguez in the middle rounds landing lefts and rights off Rodriguez’ head that will make “Bam” fight harder and he will land cleaner lefts and right hooks off Estrada’s head and body. I’m expecting the rounds to be close going back and forth but I think Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez will steal the last few rounds to pull off a close unanimous points win and stay unbeaten.”


“Interesting fight but it’s a fight that I wish would’ve happened prime for prime. Regardless of the outcome, there will be excuses. Rodriguez wins, he beat an old man or Estrada wins, Rodriguez wasn’t as good as we thought. Here’s how I feel the fight will go. The first few rounds it will be competitive, then the youth of Rodriguez will show and he’ll control the fight with speed and footwork. Estrada, as the fight progresses, he’ll show his age and ring rust. I see Bam winning a unanimous decision in 118-110 or 117-111. Bam can’t get comfortable in the ring and I don’t see it happening, but he must stay sharp because one punch can change the outcome.”

Final Tally: Rodriguez 18-1

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at

The post Fight Picks: Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Jesse Rodriguez appeared first on The Ring.

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