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With less than a month left of the year, Matchroom Boxing present one of 2023’s standout match-ups on paper as flyweight champions Jesse Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards come head-to-head in Glendale, Arizona in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Croydon’s Edwards (20-0, 4KOs) enters the bout with the IBF title at 112lbs while San Antonio’s Rodriguez (18-0, 11KOs) reigns as champion with the WBO following his claiming of the vacant title earlier this year.
Both claim to be the number one fighter in the division and are relishing the chance to prove their standing come the opening bell.
Rodriguez already holds status as a two-division champion following a domination of Carlos Cuadras for the WBC super-flyweight crown at late notice last February.
The 23-year-old raised eyebrows once more with a stunning seventh-round stoppage of former titleholder Sor Srisaket Rungvisai in his first defence before defending again versus Israel Gonzalez to round off the year.
Rodriguez moved down to flyweight, having initially campaigned at light-fly before the Cuadras bout, and soundly outpointed Cristian Hernandez for the vacant WBO title in April.
A fractured jaw forced the bout with Edwards to be delayed until the end of the year but Rodriguez is relishing the opportunity to add another big name to his record despite being so early in his career.
“I approach it the same way I always do. Cool, calm, collected – no need for talking. My work has been done in the gym. [On] Saturday night, everyone will see that,” Rodriguez said.
“This is nothing different, [it’s] just another day. I’m ready to shine.”
Edwards meanwhile cut his usual figure and pulled no punches when making his final remarks at the fight week press conference.
Having held the IBF title since comfortably outpointing former champion Moruti Mthalane in April 2021, the Briton has made four successful defences but until now has failed to land a fight against the division’s biggest names.
He has that now in Rodriguez, a man he accused of looking for reasons to pull out after the American accused him of not backing up his words online when the two were face-to-face.
“The reason I weren’t talking in person is because if I started bullying you and saying the things that I could do…your trainer [Robert Garcia] is not sat here right now cos he’s scared of what I say.
“I just wanna make sure you didn’t have any excuse about your bad hand or your bad jaw. I know exactly who I am. I just didn’t wanna bully a 23-year-old little kid who still writes love messages on Instagram.”
Edwards was also eager to point out Rodriguez’ association with Victor Conte who headed up the disgraced BALCO laboratory which engaged in the systemic use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Conte now acts as nutritionist for Rodriguez but Edwards made sure to question the former’s real role as part of ‘Team Bam’.
“He’s with them other cheaters at SNAC. Imagine having that logo on you, you’ve got question marks all over your career.
“Imagine having the most systematic, historic cheater in world professional boxing as your nutritionist. That’s crazy to me, we know what you’re doing after you weigh-in.
“If we put someone outside the hotel room he wouldn’t make it to the rings…because he needs a doctor to put something into his veins.”