In the chief support to the WBC heavyweight title clash between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz on Saturday night is another fight that promises fireworks all of its own. It features controversial Mexican bantamweight Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) who is looking to make his own statement on the landscape of the division as he faces former IBF titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs), who is returning from the first defeat of his career to World Boxing Super Series winner Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs).
Nery has had a resurgent 2019 to say the least. The Tijuana man added to the controversy that surrounds his name off the back of a failed drug test for Zilpaterol in 2017 by missing weight by three pounds in his rematch with Japans’ Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-2, 19 KOs) last year. “Patera” has bounced back from these career lows however with impressive stoppage wins over former super flyweight titleholders McJoe Arroyo (18-3, 8 KOs) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-3, 9 KOs) in displays where Nery has shown that the Japanese “Monster” isn’t the only one with devastating power at the weight.
In the other corner is Emmanuel Rodriguez, who is looking to reconsolidate his high status in the division with an eye-catching win here. Rodriguez caught the attention of many fans when he dismantled Paul Butler (30-2, 15 KOs) in front of his own fans at the O2 Arena back in May of last year. The Puerto Rican then entered the widely coveted World Boxing Series, edging past game Australian Jason Moloney (20-1, 17 KOs) in the quarter finals. Rodriguez lost his ‘0’ in exciting fashion as he was bulldozed by Japanese sensation and P4P star Naoya Inoue in the second round of their encounter, with Rodriguez badly hurt to body and head, rendering him unable to continue.
The two men meet in a time where there are a lot of eyes on the bantamweight division, with “The Monster” Inoue gaining plaudits by the minute on one side of the globe, and the tall, rangy and dangerous Zolani Tete (28-3, 21 KOs) about to defend his WBO title on the other against former belt-holder John Riel Casamero (28-4, 19 KOs) in a fight that is by no-means a forgone conclusion. Last but not least is the divisions’ dark horse, undefeated Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) who also impressed as he decisioned Naoya’s younger brother Takuma (13-1, 3 KOs) on the undercard of Inoue-Donaire.
These men are just a few of the many sets of eyes that’ll be on this weekend’s co-main event as the stakes are raised in this vibrant bantamweight division.