Current track

Title

Artist

Current show

12:00 pm 6:00 pm

Current show

12:00 pm 6:00 pm


Boxing predictions, start times, odds: Jesse Rodriguez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada; Teofimo Lopez Jr. in action

Written by on June 29, 2024

Among the many boxing cards taking place on the global landscape this weekend, there are a pair of main events worth focusing on offering everything from a big-name return to a junior bantamweight title showdown that simply can’t be missed. 

Teofimo Lopez Jr. (20-1, 13 KOs), the WBO and lineal junior welterweight champion, headlines a card from Miami on Saturday when he defends his crown against Canadian Steve Claggett (38-7-2, 26 KOs) (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET). Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Arizona, rising star and two-division champion Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) takes on his toughest test to date when he challenges pound-for-pound stalwart and WBC super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) (DAZN, 9:30 p.m. ET).

Boxing could not be any hotter right now than what’s happening at 140 pounds, where the 26-year-old Lopez resides as the lineal king. But the native of Brooklyn, New York, has had troubles drawing the big names ever since his dismantling of former undisputed champion Josh Taylor. 

Lopez survived an awkward decision against defensive-minded Jamaine Ortiz in February and was forced to settle for somewhat of a stay-busy defense against the unheralded Claggett despite calling out every big name. 

“I don’t know if I survived [against Ortiz] because it was too easy in a sense of a guy not wanting to fight with me,” Lopez told CBS Sports earlier this month. “But the king stays king and that’s where I need to be. And I’m looking to give the fans what they want and that’s great fights.

“Stylistically, [Claggett] is a come-forward fighter. He throws a lot of punches. I have seen him stop a lot of fighters. And he’s a natural welterweight coming down to 140. This guy is top 15 in our weight division. We were looking to fight the best of the best, as always. We wanted the champions like Subriel Matias, Isaac Cruz and even Devin Haney, at that one moment and time, and wanted to make a unification bout but they have their own agenda.” 

While Lopez, a monster betting favorite, is expected to clean up on the 35-year-old Claggett, who is riding a nine-fight winning streak dating back to 2021, it’s the fighter whom Lopez is quietly auditioning for that might open some eyes. 

After becoming the lineal and unified champion at lightweight with a 2020 upset of Vasiliy Lomachenko and then the recognized 140-pound king by defeating in Taylor in 2023, Lopez most covets the opportunity to become king over a third division. 

“If it permits, my main goal at this moment is to have that triple crown, and for me that’s Terence Crawford,” Lopez said. “A lot of people laugh at that and say I’m not ready but they said the same thing for me ahead of fighting Taylor, Lomachenko and even Richard Commey. And look at how those outcomes came out. I’m just someone that likes to face the best. Terence Crawford is one of the best fighters in the world, till this day, and that’s someone I want to face. He has the best style that can adapt to anything and I want to test myself against him. 

“But this is who we are facing in Steve Claggett, who is no pushover or no slouch, really. This is like a ‘Rocky Balboa’ movie for him. This is my moment to really show why I will stay on top and here I am.”

Such lofty accomplishments as commercial stardom and critical respect among the P4P best are things Lopez has already attained due, in large part, to his willingness to match himself tough so early on in his career. That same “daring to be great” spirit is alive and well in the 24-year-old Rodriguez.

A native of San Antonio, the exciting southpaw known simply as “Bam” has taken over the lower weight divisions at a rapid pace over the past three years. 

Rodriguez won a vacant super flyweight title in 2022 by outpointing Carlos Cuadras and then made a strong case for himself in the fighter of the year race by stopping former division king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Then, after moving down to 112 pounds the following year, Rodriguez continued his ambitious journey by soundly outpointing Christian Hernandez to win the vacant WBO title before unifying the IBF strap in a beatdown of unbeaten champion Sunny Edwards. 

This time, Rodriguez moves back up to super flyweight to face a 34-year-old future Hall of Famer in Estrada. The Mexican warrior not only epitomizes the fighting spirit of his home country but he has built a growing legend based upon  monumental wins over every fighter who has mattered in the past decade between 112 and 115 pounds, including Sor Rungvisai, , former P4P king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (twice), Cuadras (twice), Hernan Marquez, Brian Viloria and Giovani Segura. 

Rodriguez said it’s an outright honor to share the ring with someone like Estrada, whom he idolized as an amateur. But there’s also a bit of underlying tension between the two just below the surface, which dates back to comments Estrada made about Rodriguez after his breakout arrival at 115 pounds in 2022. 

“It’s not too personal to the point where I am mad about what he said but I do want to prove him wrong and show him that I’m the truth and I’m the real deal,” Rodriguez told Matchroom Sport cameras last month. “This is a very important fight. When I had the belt, he said a few things and discredited my wins against Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai. That, on top of fighting for his world title, makes it as big as it can be.

A high-speed war between two action stars is expected on Saturday, with the winner likely moving from the periphery of the top 10 P4P to the next level atop the sport, where names like Crawford, Naoya Inoue, Oleksandr Usyk and Canelo Alvarez reside.

The undercard in Miami also marks the return of a pair of rising prospects. Robeisy Ramirez is back in a featured contest against Brandon Leon Benitez at featherweight. Plus, Nico Ali Walsh is back when he takes on Sona Akale II at middleweight. 

“I feel very happy to be coming home here to Miami, and I’m very happy for the support that the fans have given me. I’m excited to be back.” Ramirez said at the final press conference. “I don’t think I have to do anything different. I have my objective, which is to do my work and demonstrate the quality of fighter that I am. The true Robeisy will be seen Saturday.”

Let’s take a look at the latest odds before getting to predictions on the pair of main events.

Predictions

Teofimo Lopez Jr. (-1400) vs. Steve Claggett (+750)
Jesse Rodriguez (-600) vs. Juan Francisco Estrada +430)

Claggett simply doesn’t have the elusiveness or skillset that Ortiz did to give Lopez pause in February. And Ortiz largely punted on anything offensive in order to keep the scorecards close. 

This fight is all about Lopez re-establishing himself as an exciting draw who is known for knockouts as he continues to audition for bigger fights, most of which can be made in the sport’s current landscape. Lopez has come up empty before in a memorable upset loss to George Kambosos Jr. back in 2021 but that fight had circumstances attached to it that this one doesn’t. 

Expect Lopez to look great in winning big. The only question comes down to whether he can score a stoppage in doing so as critics continue to question whether he truly brought his power up to 140 pounds with him or not. 

Meanwhile, over in Phoenix, the expectations surround nothing but the potential of 12 furious rounds at 115 pounds between Rodriguez and Estrada. The pace will be fast and the adjustments from both boxers will need to be faster. 

But it feels like Rodriguez has enough in the tank to push through what Estrada is offering while showing he has the chin to stand in and deliver. Going to the body will be important for Rodriguez, as will making sure to finish the closer rounds with big flurries to sway the judges.

Picks: Lopez via TKO9 (-145); Rodriguez via MD12 (+100)

The post Boxing predictions, start times, odds: Jesse Rodriguez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada; Teofimo Lopez Jr. in action first appeared on CBS Sports.


Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply