Boxing results, highlights, roundup: Jesse Rodriguez's rise, Gervonta Davis' star power highlight a busy June

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June was jam-packed with action in the boxing ring, from a big heavyweight showdown to kick off the month to one of the sport’s most exciting young fighters in the lighter weight divisions closing it out. Sandwiched in between, arguably the biggest star in the sport, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, picked up yet another big knockout victory.

It was a good month for the sport, which did suffer a few setbacks, including Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson getting delayed as well as the postponement of the undisputed light heavyweight championship showdown between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol. Outside the ring, Ryan Garcia was handed a one-year suspension for his multiple failed drug tests around his otherwise impressive victory (now a no contest) over Devin Haney in April.

Let’s take a look back at the month that was and identify the most significant action in the ring.

‘Bam’ Rodriguez makes pound-for-pound case

June came to a close with one of the most important fights of the month. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez was looking to continue his ascent in the boxing world against future hall of famer Juan Francisco Estrada. The fight was as entertaining as you would hope but Rodriguez was largely in control, hurting Estrada repeatedly from the third round on. Things took a quick swing in the other direction in Round 6, when Estrada landed a one-two combination that dropped Rodriguez for the first time in his career.

Rodriguez bounced off the floor and in the seventh round, Rodriguez blasted Estrada with a body shot that finished things off. It was a huge win for Rodriguez, who went from prospect to potential superstar in 2022. That year, Rodriguez agreed on less than one-week’s notice to jump up a weight class and fight Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title. Rodriguez picked up the win and then defended the title against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Israel Gonzalez to close out the year. In 2023, Rodriguez dropped back to flyweight and won the WBO belt against Cristian Gonzalez before unifying with the IBF title with a year-ending win over Sunny Edwards. Now, back at junior bantamweight, Rodriguez is champion again and has made a case for a place on pound-for-pound lists.

Teofimo Lopez picks up an easy victory

Lopez has proven to be one of the most inconsistent fighters at the top end of the sport. Any given night, Lopez could look like an elite pound-for-pound fighter or an overhyped mid-tier fighter who struggles against fringe top 10 fighters like George Kambosos, Sandor Martin and Jamaine Ortiz. This past Saturday, Lopez handled business fairly efficiently against Steve Claggett. Claggett was chosen because he stands and trades rather than employ footwork and technique, which has been something like kryptonite to Lopez in the past.

It wasn’t a thriller but Lopez got the win. After the fight, Lopez made it clear that his intention was to continue looking for “fighters” rather than “boxers” as future opponents, saying, “These are the types of fights that I want. But like no one’s going to fight like Steve Claggett. There’s only one other fighter that maybe might do it just a little bit, and he’s smaller, and that’s Pitbull, Isaac Cruz. But other than that every other fighter you can think of don’t fight that way at all. They all box.”

‘Tank’ Davis gets the job done against Frank Martin

As expected, Gervonta “Tank” Davis proved to be too much for Frank Marti in their June 16 clash. Davis started slow, as is his standard approach, before finding his timing and distance after a few rounds. From there, it was only a matter of time until Davis landed a fight-ending bomb.

That punch came in Round 8, with a clean left hand flattening Martin for the finish. Davis continues on as arguably “the face of boxing,” but fans are going to want to see him in against better fighters and stiffer tests, rather than the carefully managed and hand-picked opposition he has faced so far, soon. 

Deontay Wilder feels the ‘Big Bang’

Any hopes that Wilder could return to the top of the heavyweight division seemed to come to an end on June 1 when he met Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang. Wilder again looked hesitant to throw punches and mostly disinterested throughout the fight. This allowed Zhang to not worry about his questionable cardio and wait for the right moment to land a right hand. When that right hand landed, Wilder was sent spinning and stumbled away from Zhang, allowing Zhang to rush in with one more right hand for the knockout.

The best of the rest

On June 15, Liam Paro scored a major upset, taking a decision win over Subriel Matias to win the IBF junior welterweight title. Paro is in a division with plenty of big names. If a rematch doesn’t materialize, which it very well may, then there are other potential money fights for Paro as champion.

On the undercard of Davis’ win over Martin, David Benavidez made his light heavyweight debut against Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Benavidez scored a clean win and was impressive for most of the fight. However, there are some big questions lingering after the fight, including whether Benavidez’s power and cardio carried up to 175 pounds since he faded late and never seemed to be able to hurt Gvozdyk, who had been floored previously in his career.

Also on June 15, Chris Billam-Smith avenged his lone career loss with a decision win over Richard Riakporhe. It was an ugly fight but Billam-Smith got the job done and retained his WBO cruiserweight title in the process. Cruiserweight is a division that is starting to pick up a little steam and Billam-Smith is in a position to make a good amount of noise.

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