Jesse Rodriguez defeated Israel Gonzalez via unanimous decision
Jessie “Bam” Rodriguez (17-0, 11KO) had to work hard to win in the second defence of his WBC super flyweight title against a well prepared, motivated and tough Israel “Jiga” Gonzalez (28-5-1, 11KO), as the co-feature to Canelo-Golovkin III at the T Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas.
Rodriguez, who is the youngest active world champion right now, was warned three times for low blows and had a point deducted in round eight.
Jiga, who has already fought Jerwin Ancajas, Kai Yafai and Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez, wasn't overawed by the occasion. Aged 25, he's three years older than Bam.
Although Bam won a UD, 118-109, 117-110 and 114-113, he didn't have things all his own way, and Jiga was able to weather that already famed left hook, with his wide stance and relying on long range, finding a home for his right hand on a number of occasions.
The American pressed his man backwards throughout the contest as he looked to counter Gonzalez's targeted bodywork with ferocious uppercuts. For the opening few rounds, it was a nip and tuck affair with Gonzalez forcing Rodriguez to work extremely hard throughout.
As the contest passed the midway point Rodriguez started to get the better of the exchanges but was never in complete control.
From the fifth round onwards, Bam's superior power began to tell. Increasingly he backed Jiga against the ropes and opened up, but the challenger responded well and didn't fold under the increasing pressure. Bam was deducted a point in round eight for a low blow by Referee Kenny Bayless, yet another low blow by him in the heat of battle in round 11 went unpunished.
By the ninth, left hooks by Bam were landing as he was standing in the pocket toe to toe and the zip from Jiga's punches appeared to be dissipating. in the 10th, a huge left drove Jiga back into the ropes and the pressure which the challenger soaked up continued until the final bell. Gonzalez's left eyebrow was badly swollen, an accidental clash of heads had cut him over the left eye from the eighth onwards, which his corner dealt with efficiently. It had been a brave and gutsy effort, but the 22-year-old defending champion won decisively on all three scorecards in a strong showing, but was heavily criticised for repeated low blows throughout the contest.
Fans were left squirming by the whole ordeal and voiced their displeasure on Twitter.
@OharaSports wrote: "Gonzalez drilled with another low blow. His chances of having children just took another serious lump."
@TheDangerousOne tweeted: "Damn another low blow? Rodriguez is doing it on purpose at this point?"
@Cringemoment added: "If Rodriguez wins this, there's gotta be a rematch. The amount of times he punched Gonzalez in the d*** is crazy."