Unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (16-3-1, 11) may have impressed us in his two world title bouts, firstly beating Merlito Sabillo by stoppage to claim the WBO title and then beating Katsunari Takayama by decision to add the IBF title, but today he was lucky as he struggled to a draw with Filipino fighter Jomar Fajardo (14-5-2, 7).
On paper the bout was a mismatch with a unified world champion taking on a a genuinely unknown 22 year old Filipino journeyman. At the end however the bout ended with Fajardo being the talk of the town as he thoroughly impressed and fought up to his moniker of "The Wallopman".
From the opening round Fajardo fought like a man intent on making a name for himself who was landing monstrous right hands at will, Rodriguez to his credit took them well and the Mexican appeared to win the second and third rounds. Rodriguez's success didn't last long however and in round 4 he was all over the place and left looking a mess as Fajardo began to go all out in the pursuit of a career defining upset. Unfortunately for the Filipino his intense work rate through round 4 saw him suffering somewhat in the following round and in round 6 it appeared the Filipino had gone all in and was now fighting on fumes. The one good thing for Fajardo however was that Rodriguez was breathing through a nose that leaking like a faucet.
Although Fajardo appeared to be slowing he did have great success in round 7 as it appeared Rodriguez was in trouble with one of his hands and he again impressed in round 9 leaving the bout very finely poised going into the final wound with both men feeling like they must have been in trouble after what had been a back-and-forth war through the first 9 rounds. Both seemed to think they had to go for it in the final round and every punch Fajardo threw was a power shot, thrown with bad intentions.
At the end neither man seemed all that confident, and neither did the fans who seemed to feel it was close to a draw. Those views of the fans were reflected in the cards from two of the judges who had the bout 95-95 and 96-94 Fajardo however a card of 98-92 in favour of Rodriguez was perplexing given that the Mexican had clearly lost more than 2 rounds.
Fajardo certainly impressed here and will have put himself on the map for possible title fights on the domestic and regional scene. For Rodriguez Jr however this was a real wake up call and seems to indicate that he doesn't have the power to really compete at Flyweight. We know he wants a fight with Donnie Nietes in 2015 though on this performance Nietes would have beaten him.
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