Two brilliant young fighters, both of them looking at even bigger fights after their respective upcoming assignments…….is this the ground material for an upset or two? Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez faces Mexican veteran and all-round warrior Juan Francisco Estrada in Glendale, Arizona, while Teofimo Lopez faces Steve Claggett in Miami.

Bam faces the tougher test, by far, but Claggett is a tough dude himself, and he also really has nothing to lose as far as this fight goes, the “experts” having pretty much written him off already. But as we know, Teo is absolutely a fighter who can blow hot and cold.

Rodriguez, who cleaned up at 112 pounds, returns to 115 for the Estrada fight, where the unbeaten “Bam” goes for the WBC belt. Rodriguez has shown Estrada much respect going into this one, seemingly a guaranteed action fight but dependant on how much 34 year old Estrada has left when it comes to how long the fight lasts. However, Bam, 19-0(12) is also looking ahead. Indeed, both Rodriguez and Lopez have designs on ruling the P-4-P rankings in the not too distant future.

Bam says his ultimate dream fight is a showdown with a “Monster” called Naoya Inoue, while Teo says his ultimate gig before retiring (retirement surely still some years away, for both Teo and Bam) is a fight with Terence Crawford. Estrada and Claggett are here to spoil these lofty plans, and the party at the weekend, by scoring respective upsets.

On paper, Estrada – again, one tough hombre at 44-3(28) and never stopped – has the better shot at pulling off the upset on Saturday (it wouldn’t be a massive upset if Estrada topped Bam, but it would raise eyebrows), but Claggett might be able to take advantage more against Lopez if “The Takeover” has taken his eye off the ball here. Lopez, who will be looking to keep a firm hold of his WBO light-welterweight belt, didn’t look too impressive last time out, when he won a dull decision over Jamaine Ortiz, but Teo, 20-1(13) looked great in his fight before that, when he almost routed Josh Taylor to take the belt he now defends.

Which version of Lopez will we see on Saturday? 35 year old Canadian Claggett, 38-7-2(26) – and stopped just once – is coming off nine straight wins, and again, what has he got to lose by going for all-out on Saturday?

Bam is not the type of guy to underestimate an opponent, or so we think, and Estrada isn’t likely to catch an off-guard Rodriguez. But fans are keen to see how Bam responds if/when Estrada puts it on him, tries to rough him up, and maybe hurts him. Estrada has got under Bam’s skin a little, with Rodriguez saying his opponent hasn’t given HIM his just due.

Two big names from the lower weights, both believing they can and will achieve true greatness in the sport. And two live underdogs waiting to rip things up. So, will it be wins for Bam and Teo, or is upset season in town as far as how at least one of these fights goes?

Read the full article here