FOR most, whether fighter or fan, the prospect of being stuck in a ring with Japan’s Naoya Inoue would be considered something closer to a nightmare than a dream. He is, after all, known as “Monster” and has, through the course of a 12-year professional career, ended 24 of his 27 pro fights within the distance, often in devastating style.

And yet, while Inoue for good reason strikes fear into all with whom he crosses paths, there is one man whose instinct is to run towards the threat rather than away. His name is Jesse Rodriguez and not only does Rodriguez claim to carry no fear of Inoue, but he wants to fight him in Tokyo, Japan. He even goes so far as to call this his “dream”.

“Inoue is a dream fight,” Rodriguez told Boxing News. “That’s a fight I have been asking about for a couple of years now. Every time they ask me to name my dream fight I say it would be against him in Japan.”

Naoya Inoue

For this to happen, of course, a few things would need to fall into place. First, Rodriguez would have to take the WBC super-flyweight belt from Juan Francisco Estrada, whom he meets on June 29 in Phoenix. Then, following that, Rodriguez would have to truly quench his thirst in the 115-pound division, which could, he says, lead to a fight against the winner of the WBA and IBF title clash between Kazuto Ioka and Fernando Martinez on July 7.

“That’s a very good fight but I think Ioka will edge it out,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a fight (against either Ioka or Martinez) down the line I would be interested in.

“I just want to fight the best fights possible. If he’s (Ioka) in the way, let’s make it happen. Also, I love being in Tokyo. So let’s make it happen out there.

“Just being in Japan feels like being at home. It’s my home away from home in a way.”

To have so many options, and for each of these options to be so appealing, is a testament to both the rate at which Rodriguez has progressed and his willingness to pursue the best challenges out there. Still just 24, he has every chance, should his plan come to fruition, of creating a legacy which ranks alongside those of the very best fighters in the lower weight classes – and all within just three or four more fights.

“I have this one (against Estrada on June 29), and I also have a rematch clause with Estrada, so if he wants to do that, that would be the second (fight),” said Rodriguez, 19-0 (12). “Then the winner of Martinez versus Ioka. That’s the ideal plan for me, but if I had to stay for another fight to go undisputed, I have no problem with that.”

Seemingly, if his actions and his words offer a true reflection of his mind, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has no problems doing anything. Yes, even fighting Naoya Inoue in Tokyo, Japan.


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