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Crown Duel: Juan Francisco Estrada v Jesse Rodriguez Preview And Prediction

It’s a battle for the ages as the legendary Juan Francisco Estrada defends his WBC world and Ring Magazine super flyweight titles against undefeated prodigy Jesse Rodriguez.

Juan Francisco Estrada

It’s a battle for the ages as the legendary Juan Francisco Estrada defends his WBC world and Ring Magazine super flyweight titles against undefeated prodigy Jesse Rodriguez at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

5 AM Sunday SA time

Juan Francisco Estrada (4.45) v Jesse Rodriguez (1.20) (WBC World and Ring Magazine Super Flyweight Championships)

It’s king versus king slayer. The past and the present versus the future in a 12-round clash that has all the makings of a classic.

Estrada is excellence personified. A mainstay on the pound-for-pound list for almost a decade, the Mexican great is a two-weight world champion set to go to battle in his 15th title bout. A cerebral ring general, “El Gallo” is 44-3 with 28 knockouts whose technical proficiency along with his experience make him part of boxing royalty.

The importance of his vast experience cannot be overstated in this much-anticipated showdown against a prodigious young gun. The 34-year-old has more than double the pro fights of Rodriguez and has seen and overcome just about every style and challenge imaginable, including aggressive fighters like Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is a revelation. Boasting a perfect record of 19-0 with 12 knockouts, he’s boxing’s youngest world champion and a two-division titleholder with unlimited potential.

A fearless pursuer of greatness with all the talent and discipline in the world, the 24-year-old is hell-bent on reclaiming the WBC belt he won back in February 2022 when he outclassed Carlos Cuadras to be crowned world champion for the first time.

Proving he’s the real deal, he retained the crown in style four months later, stopping Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to make it back-to-back wins over two of the division’s “Four Kings”. Now he gets the opportunity to take out a third, but as the saying goes, if you come at the king, you best not miss.

Thus far, Rodriguez hasn’t put a foot wrong. In his two fights last year, he outpointed Cristian Gonzalez to capture the vacant WBO flyweight title in April and stopped Sunny Edwards in a masterful performance to secure the IBF flyweight belt in December.

Aggressive without being reckless, “Bam” has claimed seven of his last 10 wins by stoppage, however, Estrada is double tough and has never been knocked out, so this should be an all-action barnburner.

Estrada’s on an eight-fight win streak, his last loss to Sor Rungvisai dating back to 2018. He avenged that majority decision defeat and reclaimed the titles with a unanimous decision win in 2019.

From there, he concluded his rivalry with the fourth king at 115 pounds in Roman Gonzalez, edging him in 2021 to level the series at 1-1 and beating him more convincingly in December 2022 to win the trilogy and add the WBC super flyweight strap to his Ring Magazine belt.   

Estrada is sharp, shrewd and has remarkable range control. His ability to step in, fire off a flurry of shots and step back out without taking any damage is one of his biggest strengths, with pacing being another.

Rodriguez is more than a relentless pressure fighter. He has power but doesn’t overly rely on it. Instead, he’s a hard-hitting strategist who sets traps for his opponents and breaks them down with fast reflexes and pinpoint accuracy.

This promises to be an epic fight in which the real winners will be the fans. To pick an actual winner, though, Rodriguez is on such a roll and is a full decade younger than his legendary foe.

Estrada is also coming off a year-and-a-half layoff, so I expect Rodriguez to be the sharper fighter and outwork and outlast the veteran to add more gold to his collection.

Prediction: Rodriguez by decision.

Best Bet: Rodriguez by decision at 2.10.

Alternative Bet: Fight to go the distance at 1.54.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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