Back in the Saddle: Jason Sosa Stops Haskell Rhodes in Seven

The following two statements are simultaneously true: 

Over 23% of Jason Sosa’s professional fights have ended in something other than a victory. 


Jason Sosa is an exceptionally talented fighter who is very much in the mix at the upper tier of the junior lightweight division. 

We talk a lot in these columns about how losses shouldn’t, and don’t, define a fighter. And despite an almost statistically unexplainable four(!) draws on his 30 fight ledger, Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KO) also has three losses on there to really gunk up the aesthetics. 

The vaunted Tre’Sean Wiggins may be waiting a while to get his call from Canastota but the other two losses on Sosa’s record came to Yuriorkis Gamboa and Vasyl Lomachenko. You know who else loses to those two guys? Pretty much everyone. As I understand it, they’re pretty good.*

And that’s kind of the point here. Gaining experience in this line of work is a delicate balancing act. Too much too soon and you’re cashed out before you’ve accrued any value. Too little too late and you’re still at the batting cages while the rest of your peers are picking off kayakers with 600 ft home-runs out of Oracle Park. 

Go slow and you may never reach the finish line. Go fast and there may not be a finish line to reach.

*This will undoubtedly trigger both Orlando Salido fans and Bud Crawford fans and in this business that’s what we call bagging a two-fer

Against tricky veteran Haskell Rhodes (27-4-1, 13 KO) on an ESPN+ televised card from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on Saturday night, Sosa hoped to show that the back-to-back losses to Gamboa and Lomachenko were experience gained, rather than momentum lost. Get rounds in and tighten some screws but also make a statement and build confidence.

Without spoiling the ending, it’s amazing what beating the shit out of someone can do to achieve those goals.

Sosa made it clear from the opening bell that he intended to do his business in close quarters and Rhodes was all too happy to oblige. The more he tried to close the distance the more Sosa was able to find a home for his digging left hooks to the body. The early rounds were punctuated by some good exchanges with Sosa getting the better of it.

Rhodes showed no desire to mix up his game plan, and though he was able to land the occasional hook upstairs, the momentum was clearly building in Sosa’s favor. 

In the fifth round, Sosa detonated a bomb on Rhodes’ temple that sent him flat onto his back where his head bounced off the canvas like a coke balloon falling out of Oscar De La Hoya’s unclenched rectum. Rhodes would amazingly beat the count but was down again from a barrage of punches with seconds remaining in the round. He managed to survive but the end was near. 

An accidental clash of heads in the sixth would open a cut over Sosa’s eye, but it would only serve to delay the inevitable as well as give him a story to swap with Oscar De La Hoya about the time that he too was left covered in blood because of a butt.

Rhodes would survive yet another knockdown in the seventh, but a continued deluge of punches from Sosa prompted his corner to throw in the towel. The fight was officially waved off at 1:08 of the seventh round.

This was great exposure for Sosa, and he owes a massive debt of gratitude to the giant fucking cinder block that fell on Carl Frampton’s hand earlier in the week, prompting the cancellation of his fight with Emmanuel Dominguez which bumped Sosa/Rhodes up to main event status.

“There’s room for improvement but we feel great and we feel like we’re a top contender once again,” Sosa said after the fight. “We never left.”

With a stacked 130 lb division in front of him, there are a number of tantalizing options ahead for Sosa. He expressed a desire to head straight to the top of the mountain against Miguel Berchelt, and if the prospect of that fight doesn’t give a little zap to your swimsuit area, you may want to check yourself for a pulse. 

Would Berchelt be favored against Sosa? Absolutely. After all, he doesn’t have three losses on his record like Sosa does.

But this is boxing. You can’t win if you don’t play.

And Jason Sosa is, once again, very much a player.

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank)