IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up the WBC super-flyweight title clash between young champion Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez and former title holder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in San Antonio on Saturday night.
Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez took a giant step forward in his still-young career when he outpointed Carlos Cuadras to win the vacant WBC 115lbs title in February. Not only was Rodriguez facing by far his toughest opponent, he was moving up in weight from the 112lbs division. There’s no going back now, and on Saturday night Rodriguez is in potentially the most dangerous fight of his career when he defends the title against fellow-southpaw Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
This is a hometown fight for Rodriguez in San Antonio, Texas. He’s the younger, fresher fighter. But Srisaket (or Wisaksil Wangek if you prefer) has the greater experience and he’s heavy handed. It’s an intriguing fight, and some were surprised that Rodriguez opened as a fairly heavy favourite. He’s currently available at 2/9 (-450) at Betfred. If you like Srisaket’s chances, Betfred offers the Thai veteran at 7/2 (+350).
I don’t think anyone will be rushing to lay a negative price on Rodriguez. But Bam should win this fight. He truly looks like a special talent. Only 22, Bam seems mature beyond his years. He’s fast and skilled and he hits with authority. His ex-champ trainer Robert Garcia has faith in Bam’s ability to handle himself against the very best. That’s why Garcia signed off on the Cuadras fight and why he accepted Srisaket as Saturday’s opponent.
You have to respect Srisaket, who twice defeated modern-era great Chocolatito Gonzalez, the second time on a stunning fourth-round KO. He followed these victories with a decision win over the talented Juan Francisco Estrada. However, Estrada outpointed him in a rematch, and Srisaket hasn’t been very active, with just three bouts in the last three years. Srisaket is 35 years old, which is getting up there for a boxer in the lighter weight divisions. He didn’t have it all his own way against 40-year-old Amnat Ruenroeng a couple of years ago. And although Srisaket won his last two bouts inside the distance he was meeting opponent who were used to getting stopped.
Is Srisaket the fighter he once was? We can’t be sure. I thought he looked somewhat old at the weigh-in. Rodriguez, meanwhile, looks bigger and stronger than he did when he faced Cuadras four months ago.
So, if you believe Rodriguez will win but don’t wish to pay the ticket price for a money-line bet, how do you play the fight?
On the face of it, Rodriguez to win by decision would seem to be a good way to go. After all, Srisaket has shown toughness in all of his big fights. (It seems almost unbelievable that he was stopped in each of his first two pro bouts, although these defeats were in Japan way back in 2009 when the novice Srisaket was thrown in as the “opponent”.)
If Chocolatito couldn’t stop Srisaket, and Estrada couldn’t put a dent in him, then how can Rodriguez halt the sturdy veteran?
Well, as always in boxing (and life), timing is everything. Rodriguez will surely have grown as a fighter after coming through 12 tough rounds with Cuadras. He’s on home ground and ready to put on a show. Srisaket hasn’t had a real fight in three years.
This seems to be a case of ships sailing in different directions. Could it be that Rodriguez’ youth, speed and energy will overwhelm the older man?
The “Rodriguez by decision/technical decision” proposition is offered at around 5/7 (-140) across the industry. That’s a fair price if you see Rodriguez winning by decision as the likeliest outcome. If you like the idea of Rodriguez winning by KO/TKO/DQ, you might be tempted by the odds of around 13/5 (+260).
Sometimes, it all comes to a hunch. Can Srisaket reproduce the sort of fighting prowess he showed three, four years ago? We won’t know until the fight gets underway.
If you feel the fight goes the full 12 rounds, the “Distance — Yes” proposition is about 1/2 (-200). I think I prefer “Distance — No”. And you’re getting 3/2 (+150) if you bet on the fight not reaching the final bell.
But, in these youth vs experience bouts, it all hinges on how much the older fighter has left. Which makes betting on the fight something of a guessing game.
Main image: Rodriguez (left) will be looking to beat another big name when he faces Srisaket (right) in Texas on Saturday night.