Jessie Magdaleno likes to stay busy in the ring. So when the undefeated super bantamweight from Las Vegas was diagnosed with tonsillitis in April and forced to take six weeks off, it was a tossup as to which bothered him more — his throat or his restlessness.
“It felt like forever,” Magdaleno said Wednesday. “I’m not used to sitting around.”
Magdaleno (18-0, 14 knockouts), who last fought Feb. 15, returns to the ring Saturday on Top Rank’s boxing card at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in an eight-round bout against veteran Carlos Rodriguez of Mexico. And when Magdaleno enters the ring, it will be with renewed resolve.
While recuperating after undergoing a tonsillectomy, Magdaleno became a father when his fiancee, Julia Dominguez, gave birth to a boy on May 25. Now when he fights, it’s not just for himself.
“It’s totally different now,” Magdaleno said. “I have to work twice as hard. I have a family to feed now. It’s much more personal when I fight now because I have people I can’t afford to let down.”
Leonardo Magdaleno is only a couple of months old. But his dad said his son has a lot of the same restless energy Jessie had as a toddler.
“He’s amazing,” Magdaleno said. “He’s trying to lift his head and move around. He’s full of joy and energy.
“It’s a gift that I always wanted, and even though I’m just 22, I feel so blessed to be a dad. That’s why every time I go into the ring from now on, I have something more to fight for than just myself.”
Magdaleno said he was blessed in one other respect — his illness gave his body time to rest. And when he returned to the gym in Indio, Calif., to work with trainer Joel Diaz, he was re-energized.
“It may have been a blessing in disguise getting that time off,” Magdaleno said. “When I returned to the gym, I was able to focus on me, what I was doing in the ring. We worked a lot on my defense, taking my time with throwing my punches, creating good distance between myself and my opponent and not being overanxious.
“I feel like I’ve improved so much, even though I haven’t fought since February. I feel like a different fighter now.”
In the 30-year-old Rodriguez (18-14-4, 10 KOs), Magdaleno is facing a veteran fighter who has lost four of his past five bouts. Magdaleno said he doesn’t expect to be rusty and plans to start quickly.
“I’ve fought older guys who have good records,” he said. “But this is about going in there and doing what I need to do and just work the game plan that coach (Diaz) has come up with.”
Magdaleno doesn’t think his six-week hiatus has impacted his timetable for fighting for a title next year. At some point, he would like a chance against Leo Santa Cruz, the World Boxing Council super bantamweight champion.
“I want that world championship belt more than ever,” Magdaleno said. “I know I can win the title.
“It’s hard to be patient sometimes, especially when you’re young. But I know as long as I keep winning, I’ll get my shot. Hopefully it will come soon.”
■ NOTES — Diego Chaves’ visa problems were resolved Wednesday, paving the way for the welterweight from Argentina to fight Brandon Rios in Saturday’s main event. HBO will televise the 10-round fight. ... Shane Mosley Jr. will face Jerome Jones (1-0-1, one KO) in a four-round junior middleweight bout on the undercard. Former champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley trains his son, who won his professional debut April 26 by first-round knockout.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.