Jonathan Rodriguez sends Khalid Yafai into likely retirement with first round KO

November 16, 2023; Los Angeles, CA; Kal Yafai and Jonathan Rodriguez pose after the press convention for the November 18, 2023 Matchroom boxing struggle card in Los Angeles, CA. Necessary Credit score: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Jonathan Rodriguez made his presence known in the bantamweight division Saturday night.

Rodriguez dropped Khalid Yafai twice en route to a first round knockout victory before a shocked crowd at the YouTube Theatre. Rodriguez, who resides in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, improved to 17-1-1, 7 knockouts.

Within the first minute of the opening round, Rodriguez landed a sweeping right cross to the head, staggering Yafai before he dropped to the canvas. Yafai beat the count and was game, even landing a left hook to the head.

Moments later, Rodriguez threw a proper hand to the pinnacle, which didn’t join, however Yafai dropped to the canvas. Referee Thomas Taylor nonetheless administered a standing eight-count, which Yafai beat.

Yafai continued to face within the pocket, and was clipped with a left hook to the pinnacle, staggering him in direction of the ropes. Rodriguez adopted up, connecting with a left uppercut to the pinnacle, prompting referee Taylor to cease the struggle at 2:17. 

The 24-year-old Rodriguez final fought on August 4, defeating Marvin Solano by unanimous choice. Rodriguez is now unbeaten in his final 10 bouts since dropping by knockout to Manuel Flores in September 2020.

Rodriguez is promoted by Marshall Kauffman and managed by Trifon Petrov.

Yafai, who resides in Birmingham, England, falls to 27-2, 15 KOs. The 34-year-old held the WBA world junior bantamweight title earlier than dropping by knockout to Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez in February 2020. 

Yafai advised Chris Mannix within the post-fight interview that Saturday was possible his final struggle. 

Junior light-weight prospect Marc Castro of Fresno, California stopped Gonzalo Fuenzalida within the seventh spherical. Castro improved to 11-0, 8 KOs. 

Castro was the more-effective fighter from the opening spherical, both outboxing Fuenzalida from distance or within the pocket as each exchanged combos. Castro principally labored from behind a jab, connecting proper crosses or straight proper arms to the pinnacle.

Because the struggle progressed, Castro assorted his offense, main with proper arms to the pinnacle or to the physique of Fuenzalida. 

Because the struggle progressed into the second half, Fuenzalida continued to be sport, however fought extra in spurts. Castro was content material to outbox Fuenzalida. At occasions, Castro would again Fuenzalida up in a nook, throwing a barrage of punches, however Fuenzalida was by no means harm, preventing again and touchdown his personal share of punches to the pinnacle of Castro.

Castro elevated his punch output in spherical seven. He was capable of put Fuenzalida on the defensive in opposition to the ropes, raining punches down, however few really related. Fuenzalida bobbed and weaved, however referee Ray Corona noticed sufficient, stopping the struggle at 2:31. 

Fuenzalida, who’s initially from Santiago, Chile and now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, falls to 12-3, 3 KOs.

Junior light-weight prospect Jalan Walker stopped Jorge Villegas at 2:55 of the second spherical. Walker, who resides in Los Angeles, improved to 12-0-1, 10 KOs.

Villegas, initially from Los Mochis, Mexico and now residing in Oxnard, California, falls to 14-2, 13 KOs. 

Within the opening bout of the Matchroom Boxing card, light-weight Criztec Bazaldua of Los Angeles improved to 3-0, 1 KO, stopping Pedro Angel Cruz (3-4, 2 KOs) of San Jose, California at 46 seconds of the fourth spherical.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has lined boxing in Southern California and overseas since 2000. Francisco additionally covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He could be reached at [email protected]

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