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.
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida will be the host site of Top Rank Promotions latest boxing card to be televised on ESPN. Masayuki Ito will defend his WBO Junior lightweight title against Jamel Herring, a former US Olympic team member.
The co-feature of the night will also be a lightweight bout with possible future title implications. Former champion Jose Pedraza will face Antonio Lozada in the co-main event.
The undercard will feature several prospects such as Adam Lopez, Jean Carlos Rivera, Jeyvier Cintron, Koki Eto, Steve Nelson, and Yomar Alamo.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Jose Pedraza (25-2) vs. Antonio Lozada (40-2-1); Lightweight Division
Jose Pedraza’s two losses came against two of the best fighters in the lightweight division, Vasily Lomachenko by decision and a TKO loss to Gervonta Davis.
Lozada’s two losses came against fighters not as well known as Lomachenko and Davis. He lost to Roberto Ortiz and Ramiro Alcaraz, though he avenged the Alcaraz loss in a rematch.
Pedraza is thirty years old and one year older than Lozada. Pedraza will be giving up two inches in height to Lozada, and will be giving up an edge in power. Pedraza has only stopped twelve of his opponent and his last five wins were by decision. Lozada however has stopped thirty four of his opponents.
Both boxers have been relatively active recently. Pedraza fought four times in 2018 and only once in 2017. Lozada fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Pedraza has a clear edge in amateur experience as he competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Pedraza has beatedn the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Antonio Moran, Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Tevin Farmer.
Lozada’s biggest win to date was an upset TKO victory of the then undefeated Felix Verdejo. He has no other notable wins.
Lozada’s win over Verdejo has given him some notoriety and allowed him to land this fight, but he will be facing a far more experienced and skilled opponent on Saturday. Lozada has the power to pull off an upset victory but on paper it appears unlikely.
But outside of those two boxers Pedraza is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division.
Masayuki Ito (25-1-1) vs. Jamel Herring (19-2); WBO Junior Lightweight Title
Ito is a bit of an unknown in the Unite States, out of 27 fights he has only fought once outside of Japan, and that was when he won the WBO Junior Lightweight Title.
Ito is only 28 years old, five years younger than Herring. However, he will be giving up about an inch and a half in height but will have a half an inch advantage in reach. Both boxers have been fairly active, with both of them fighting three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Neither boxer is known for their power. Ito has stopped thirteen of his opponents while Herring has stopped ten of his opponents. However, Ito has stopped four of his past five opponents.
Herring does have an edge in amateur experience, as he competed for the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Ito has defeated the likes of Evgeny Chuprakov, Christopher Diaz, Lorenzo Villanueva, and Takuya Watanabe. His lone loss was to Rikki Naito.
Herring has defeated the likes of John Vincent Moralde, Art Hovhannisyan, and Luis Eduardo Florez. His losses were to Ladarius Miller and Denis Shafikov.
This should be a good fight, but Ito’s technical expertise should overwhelm the two loss Herring.
By: Michael Kane
Floyd Mayweather wasn’t the only ‘Boxing’ bout that took place in Japan this weekend. Sunday 30th would see a first title defence of Masayuki Ito’s WBO Junior Lightweight title at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Ito faced his mandatory challenger, Evgeny Chuprakov (20-1, 10 Kos), however the 28 year old Russian proved to be no match for Ito, who won via a 7th round knockout in a fairly one sided bout.
Despite suffering a second round cut, from an accidental clash of heads, Ito dominated the fight, landing at will against a reckless Chuprakov. The Russian stood in front of Ito, trying to land wild shots and was an easy target for Ito.
The fight culminated in the 7th, when Ito landed several hard shots which knocked out the Russians gumshield, as the ref called a timeout to replace it Chuprakov’s corner threw the towel in.
The 27 year old Ito (27-1-1. 13 KOs) is tipped to return to the United States next year, having claimed the vacant belt when he defeated Christopher Diaz in July.
Also on the card was Takuma Inoue who won the vacant WBC interim Bantamweight World Title when he defeated Petch CP Freshmart by unanimous decision, all three judges scored it 117-111.
25 year old Freshmart (48-1,33 KOs) was fighting outside of Thailand for the first time and came up short against 23 year old Inoue (13-0, 3 KOs) who was a step up in class to Freshmart.
Inoue now becomes the mandatory challenger for the winner of the vacant title between Rau’shee Warren and Nordine Oubaali, who meet on January 19th on the undercard of the Pacquiao and Broner fight.
The third world title on the card would see Ken Shiro (15-0, 8 Kos) successfully defend his WBC junior Flyweight title against Mexican Saul ‘Baby’ Juarez (24-9-2, 13 KOs). This was another one sided bout for the Japanese crowd to enjoy, Shiro was quicker throughout and scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 reflect his dominance.
Moving across the sea to Macau and another triple header of world title bouts that took place today, Monday 31st.
First up was Filipino Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23 KOs) joining compatriots Nonito Donaire and Manny Pacquiao as a four weight world champion after winning against Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13 KOs). This was a split decision win for the 36 year old Nietes, who becomes a world champion again ten years after his first title win. The general consensus is that Ioka was robbed as most viewers had him winning, myself included. The judges however scored it 116-112 for Ioka, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nietes. Nietes won the WBO World Super Flyweight title.
Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9 KOs) can now add a second weight class to his resume as a champion, the former minimum weight champion, won the WBA Super Light Flyweight title forcing the champion Hekkie Budler’s (32-4, 10 KOs) corner to stop the fight in the 10th round. Kyoguchi worked the body throughout which eventually took its toll on the South African.
The final world title bout saw an easy defence for IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25 KOs) who was too experienced and too strong for his Japanese opponent Mashiro Sakamoto (13-2, 9 KOs). The fight ended after Sakamoto suffered a swollen eye after the 10th round.
By: Sean Crose
Christopher Diaz, 23-0, battled Masayuki Ito, 23-1-1 for the vacant WBO World Super Featherweight title in Kissimmee, Florida on Saturday evening. The first round saw Ito employing an effective jab while Diaz worked to establish himself. By the end of the second, Ito was landing against Puerto Rico’s Diaz effectively. By the end of the third, it was becoming clear that if Ito had more power, he might be able to truly damage his opponent. As it was, the Tokyo based fighter continued to land effectively.
Diaz landed effectively himself early in the fourth. Yet a blistering Ito combination brought Diaz to the mat seconds later. Diaz got up, but Ito continued to pummel his opponent with menacing straight punches.
Much to his credit, Diaz was able to come back and fight effectively in the fifth. Perhaps Ito was merely conserving energy, but there was no questioning Diaz’ heart. Diaz continued to fight gamely in the sixth. The seventh saw Diaz landing at points, but the accuracy of Ito’s shots – which were punctuated by by telling uppercuts, were telling the tale. By the eighth, the pattern was familiar – Diaz showed an ability to hook effectively while Ito jabbed and fired at will. Yet, as impressive as Ito was, Diaz’ heart, along with some very solid hooks, started to make a mark. By the later rounds, it was clear this was an exciting affair.
His face a mess, particularly after a head butt, Diaz slugged his way through the eleventh, making the end of the bout appear in question. The twelfth was a slugfest. Diaz landed very well. Ito landed even better. After the final bell, the two combatants, banged up and bruised, embraced in mutual respect. Ito ended up with a unanimous decision win…and a title belt. It might not have been fight of the year, but it was certainly one of the better brawls of 2018. The WBO strap had belonged to Vasyl Lomachenko, but the Ukrainian star had moved up earlier in the year to capture a lightweight title off of Jorge Linares, thus leaving the super featherweight title vacant.
Earlier in the night, Gabriel Bracero, 24-3-1, wiped out Artemio Reyes, 25-2-0, via fifth round TKO in a welterweight bout. Bracero had reportedly taken the fight on just over a week’s notice. The card was aired live on ESPNs streaming service, ESPN+, and was promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions.