Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez has emerged as a breakout star over the course of the previous yr.

The one factor left for the San Antonio native to do in 2022 is to observe his older brother be part of him within the winner’s circle.

Joshua Franco—Rodriguez’s older brother by two years—must overcome a 16-month inactive stretch and a partisan crowd forward of his WBA/WBO junior bantamweight title unification match versus Kazuto Ioka.

The bout takes place this Saturday at Ota-Metropolis Basic Gymnasium in Tokyo, marking the fourth title battle on the yr for his household; Rodriguez went 3-0 in a 2022 Fighter of the 12 months-level marketing campaign however is satisfied that Franco will save the perfect for final because it pertains to their family.

“I’ve by no means seen my brother look this good,” Rodriguez advised the assembled media Wednesday in Tokyo. “He’s been telling me even on the health club he feels higher than ever. He feels good.

“I do know on Saturday night time he’s going to point out the Joshua Franco that lots of people have by no means seen earlier than.”

Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs) was beforehand in coaching for an ordered WBA title consolidation bout with Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28KOs). Franco held the the WBA ‘Common’ junior bantamweight title, whereas Estrada was the WBA ‘Tremendous’ champ earlier than relinquishing the crown for failure to proceed with the mandated battle.

The event left Franco because the acknowledged full champ however with no battle till his staff was in a position to safe the unification conflict with Ioka (29-2, 15KOs), the one male Japanese boxer to win titles in 4 weight divisions. It meant having to hit the street, showing in Tokyo on a year-end vacation that belongs to Ioka who will headline a New 12 months’s Eve present for the eleventh time in his storied profession.

None of that was of any concern to Franco, who was ready to do the heavy lifting even in a division the place he shared the highlight. Rodriguez claimed the WBC belt earlier this yr however was at all times decided to avoid wasting the largest fights for his massive brother.

Not even an prolonged ring absence has dulled Franco’s confidence. Nor will he enable it to face in the way in which of fulfilling his future.  

“For that year-plus I used to be off, I sparred simply to remain in form and keep sharp however didn’t prepare on a regular basis,” Franco advised BoxingScene,com. “It wasn’t very best to be out of the ring all that point nevertheless it positively benefited my physique. My physique was in a position to get its relaxation and I got here into coaching camp at full power. Even my staff stated that is the perfect I’ve seemed in camp.

“A win on December 31 makes ready for this all price it. I’ve been off 16 months however I’ve at all times been prepared for a battle like this, a second like this. My complete staff is assured, we’re able to go in there and get this win, then let’s see the place it takes us.”

Jake Donovan is a senior author for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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