Rodriguez's focus for Edwards honed by life-changing news

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has been preparing for the toughest test of his career while aware he will soon become a parent for the first time.

Shortly after confirmation of his IBF and WBO flyweight title fight with Sunny Edwards – on Saturday at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona – the 23-year-old Rodriguez learned that his partner Rebecca is expecting a baby girl.

He has had to leave her to remain in California with his respected trainer Robert Garcia while he prepares for the challenge posed by Edwards. The WBO champion regardless insists that instead of it being a distraction, he is being driven by the life-changing news.

“We found out about four months ago, so we’ve known for some time,” he said. “We’re happy; we’re excited, and we can’t wait until our baby girl’s finally here. The fight was announced in June and then we found out after that. 

“I’m a lot more motivated. I know I have someone to take care of now – a little baby girl – so I been a lot more motivated. I know this fight will do a lot for my family; a lot for my daughter. I’ve been a lot more motivated and I’m ready, December 16.

“This is a huge fight – a fight that we want. This is what boxing needs. Baby or not, I would have taken this fight.

“I got here [to Oxnard, California] early October and I been here training since, so I been away from home. It is hard. I do miss her [Rebecca]. I miss [my home city] San Antonio in general. But it’s part of the sacrifices that we have to do as boxers; to provide for our families. It’ll all pay off in the end.”

There had been speculation that in the event of victory over Edwards, 27 and the IBF champion, Rodriguez could yet fight the great Roman Gonzalez, but he said: “Ever since I won my title they wanted me to fight him but [our co-promoter] Mr [Akihiko] Honda wouldn’t let that happen. Me and ‘Chocolatito’ have respect between each other and that’s a hard fight that would be made – I don’t think it’d ever happen. 

“The mutual respect is there. Mr Honda – we’re both backed up by Tieken Promotions – so that’s a hard fight to make. A sparring session would be cool, but fighting? Nah. I’d love to spar him though. 

“He still has a lot left in the tank for sure – the last [Juan Francisco] Estrada fight [last year] he started a little slow but then he picked it up towards the end. He wasn’t able to pull it off but he still has a lot left in the tank.”