By: Sean Crose
Saturday night’s Top Rank ESPN card from Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida began with the 25-2 Jose Pedraza facing off against the 40-2-1 Antonio Lozada in a scheduled 10 round lightweight affair. The opening round was close, with both men landing clean, but Pedraza landed the more impressive blows. Lozada pressured Pedraza in the second, as he had the first, but Pedraza’s ring generalship and accurate punching told the story of the round. Pedraza began to really put his punches together in the third. As the fight carried on, Pedraza began showing effective defense, even presenting shades of Floyd Mayweather’s famous shoulder roll/counter punch style. It was clear by the midpoint of the fight that Pedraza was simply the more skilled boxer of the two.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Round seven saw Pedraza moving forward against the aggressive Lozada, though Pedraza’s performance was marred by a low blow. By the first minute of the eighth, Pedraza was unloading on his man. Lozada survived, but Pedraza continued to land with frightening accuracy and consistency. By the end of the round, Lozada looked to truly be impacted by Pedraza’s sharp body punching. In between rounds, the game fighter looked completely defeated. Yet he raced out to meet Pedraza at the top of the ninth, regardless. No matter – Pedraza put Lozada down in the final minute of the round. Lozada got up, but Pedraza unloaded on his man against the ropes. Lozada’s father and trainer wisely stepped in to stop the bout.
It was time for the main event. The 25-1-1Masayuki Ito stepped into the ring to defend his WBO junior lightweight title against the 19-2 former Marine and Olympian Jamel Herring. The scheduled twelve round bout started with both fighters doing well, but with Herring edging the first round. Effective aggression and clean punching gave the defending champion the second. Herring’s jab told the story of the third. Herring engaged in a boxing masterclass in the fourth. By the fifth it was clear that Ito simply couldn’t find his rhythm. Herring ended the round with an impressive series of shots. In the sixth, Ito started landing clean. Ito continued to do better in the seventh, but Herring became largely capable of telegraphing his opponent’s shots.
The eighth round was a brawl, a brawl that Ito arguably got the better of. The ninth was close, though Herring ended up boxing effectively. Herring continued to box smartly in the tenth. Ito went down in the 11th, though it was ruled a slip. Ito was aggressive enough throughout the round to have possibly taken it. The final round was close, and could possibly have gone either way. When the scorecards were read, there was a new champion – Jamel Herring.