BIG FINISH! Bam Rodriguez stops Sunny Edwards to unify flyweight belts!

Fighting

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez unified his WBO flyweight belt with Sunny Edwards’s IBF title in a thrilling battle in Glendale, Arizona tonight on DAZN.

Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KO) matched and arguably outperformed Edwards on a technical level, and his significant reach and power advantage were too much for Edwards to overcome.

Edwards (20-1, 4 KO) gave us a courageous performance, hanging in the pocket and exchanging despite significant damage to his face. But, he couldn’t generate enough power to keep Rodriguez off of him.

Edwards didn’t have the skill and speed advantage he’s relied upon to such success in previous fights, but showed no fear or hesitation standing in against the heavier punches of Rodriguez. Sunny did spend the earliest parts of the fight working the referee on any punches that landed below his nipples, but stopped the campaign when his complaints got no traction.

Rodriguez injured Sunny’s left eye midway through the 2nd round, an injury Edwards said afterward had compromised his vision. Edwards took a cut under his other eye in the 6th, an all-action round fought almost entirely in the pocket.

Edwards never stopped throwing back, but the power of Bam Rodriguez swung the fight more and more clearly his way as the rounds accumulated. A bruised and bleeding Edwards lost his mouthpiece early in the 9th, then went down for the first time as a professional at the very end of the round. It was enough for his corner to call a stop to the action, giving Rodriguez the victory at the official time of 1 second into the 10th round.

Tremendous respect shown by both men in the aftermath, as both praised the talent and performance of the other. As for what’s next — Juan Francisco Estrada’s name was mentioned repeatedly as a future Bam opponent.

Murodjon Akhmadaliev TKO-8 Kevin Gonzalez

An outstanding return to form for Murodjon Akhmadaliev in the chief support, breaking down and punishing Kevin Gonzalez across 8 rounds. The margins were very tight in the first three rounds, with Akhmadaliev (12-1, 9 KO) relying heavily on the jab early while Gonzalez (26-1-1, 13 KO) did most of his work with the fast lead right hand.

Akhmadaliev stepped up big in the 4th round, cracking Gonzalez’s nose, smothering Gonzalez when he wasn’t stepping back to avoid or fire off firm counters. Akhmadaliev took complete control and very nearly finished things in the 6th, putting Gonzalez on the canvas with left hook and uppercut combo. Gonzalez rose, and Akhmadaliev went after him like a starving piranha, putting him down a second time and bending his broken nose practically sideways. Gonzalez managed to survive the round and make it back to the corner, where his team threatened they were close to stopping it.

They didn’t, nor did they after a largely ineffective 7th round from Gonzalez. They still didn’t bother even after he got knocked down again in the 8th, but the referee finally took responsibility for Gonzalez’s safety instead and stepped in to wave it off when Akhmadaliev started pummeling Gonzalez after that knockdown.

The win puts Akhmadaliev right back in the championship mix. Asked after the fight if he wanted the winner of Naoya Inoue vs Marlon Tapales, Akhmadaliev replied: “Those are my belts.”

Galal Yafai UD-10 Rocco Santomauro

Galal Yafai was faster, busier, and well in control from start to finish in a wide decision victory over Rocco Santomauro. Santomauro (22-3, 6 KO) wasn’t completely run over, but he was just a beat slower, and couldn’t dish out as much damage as he took. Yafai (6-0, 4 KO) opened a cut on Santomauro’s eyebrow in the first half of the fight, but never really pressed for the finish.

Our Wil Esco, a noted handlebar moustache enthusiast, had it unofficially 97-93 for Yafai. That tracked with the Santomauro-friendliest take from the official judges, who all had it wide for Yafai by scores of 99-91, 98-93, and 97-93.

Ja’Rico O’Quinn KO-5 Peter McGrail

Everything was working perfectly for Peter McGrail in his American debut, until it all came to a catastrophic end on a note-perfect counter right hand from Ja’Rico O’Quinn.

McGrail (8-1, 5 KO) looked sharp, showing fast hands and quick feet. He knocked O’Quinn (17-1-1, 9 KO) down with both hands – the right in the 2nd, and the left in the 4th – opened a cut on O’Quinn’s eyebrow, and overall dominated every second of the fight until a terrible defensive lapse in the final minute of the 5th. That’s when O’Quinn (17-1-1, 9 KO) got off a beautiful counter hook that splattered McGrail across the apron, half in and half out of the ropes.

Fantastic finish for O’Quinn, who proves once again that a fight isn’t over until the final bell rings. And a devastating reversal of fortune for McGrail, who suffers defeat for the first time as a professional.

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