Jose Pedraza Meets Julian Rodriguez At The Crossroads For A World Title Opportunity
By: Hector Franco
This weekend at the Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) will step in the ring against New Jersey’s Julian Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.
Pedraza, over the last decade, has been one of Puerto Rico’s most accomplished fighters winning world titles at super featherweight and lightweight. As an amateur, Pedraza was a standout for the island, winning the gold medal at the 2010 Central American & Caribbean Games, winning the silver medal at the AIBA World Championships in Milan, Italy in 2009, and the bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Pedraza, who hails from the small town of Cidra in Puerto Rico, first won a title as a professional at 130-pounds when he scored a dominant unanimous decision over Russia’s Andrey Klimov in 2015. He would go on to make two title defenses of his title, including a controversial win over veteran Edner Cherry before facing Gervonta Davis in January 2017.
At that time, the Puerto Rican was part of the Premier Boxing Champions stable and ran into some promotional issues that kept him relatively inactive, fighting only once in 2016 and 2017.
Pedraza would lose his IBF super featherweight title to Davis by seventh-round stoppage in a fight where he was primarily dominated and beaten up.
More than a year after the loss to Davis, Pedraza would begin the next phase of his career, signing with Top Rank in 2018. He would fight an unprecedented four times in 2018, including winning the WBO lightweight title against Ray Beltran, giving him the distinction of being a two-division champion.
At the end of 2018, Pedraza would face then pound-for-pound star Vasiliy Lomachenko in a lightweight unification match. The Puerto Rican would endure himself well against Lomachenko finding moments of success but would ultimately lose a unanimous decision to the Ukrainian.
Pedraza would then make a move to the 140-pound division. Another bump in the road for the Puerto Rican came when he faced top junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda losing a unanimous decision to the Mexican.
While the losses to Davis and Lomachenko were detrimental to Pedraza, the loss to Zepeda put him in a position where he had to prove himself as a world title challenger in a loaded weight class.
The road to a world title would be much more complex at junior welterweight.
In 2020, Pedraza would stay busy winning two unanimous decisions over Mikkel LesPierre and Javier Molina in commanding performances.
Now, he finds himself fighting against a fighter salivating at the opportunity to show the world his skillset in Julian Rodriguez. The New Jersey native was a well-known amateur, winning the 2013 National Golden Gloves and signed with Top Rank over eight years ago.
Rodriguez’s career stalled out due to a shoulder injury that kept him out of the ring for the entirety of 2018 and fighting only once in 2017. The 26-year old Rodriguez would like to use Pedraza as a stepping-stone to more significant fights as the Puerto Rican thus far has only lost to elite competition.
“There were a few hiccups with the injury that I had a few years ago, but I believe I’m on that top-tier level,” Rodriguez stated at the final press conference promoting the fight. “A lot of people that were in my class growing up, the same age group, they’re world champions now. I feel like that’s where I belong, and that’s what I am going to prove on Saturday.”
While Rodriguez is looking to make a name for himself against Pedraza, the Puerto Rican aims to cement himself with the best fighters to come out of his country.
Pedraza wants to join fighters such as Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez, and Felix Trinidad as three-division champions.
“It would mean a lot to join all the Puerto Rican greats to have won world titles in three weight classes,” said Pedraza. “After the loss to Zepeda, I focused a lot more on training and training styles that I’m going to show on Saturday, everything that I’ve been working on.”
Pedraza and Rodriguez will meet in a classic crossroads confrontation. The winner will move on to possibly become a future opponent for a world title. The loser, however, will be back at the bottom of the heap relegated to climbing back up the ladder of boxing relevancy.
ESPN+ Boxing Results: Jose Pedraza Picks Up Another Win, This Time At The Expense Of Javier Molina
Jose Pedraza vs Javier Molina
Jose Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) looked dominant tonight as he pitched a near shut out against Javier Molina (22-3, 9 KOs).
Nearly every second of their contest was dictated by Pedraza and he left little doubt as to who the better fighter was.
After 12 rounds which saw the Puerto Rican native pound his man’s face in, he left the ring with a unanimous decision victory. The scorecards were as followed: 99-91 and two scores of 98-92 all in favor of Pedraza.
Efe Ajagba vs Jonathan Rice
Heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba (14-0, 11 KOs) was given high praise from promoter Bob Arum once he signed to Top Rank, but he didn’t exactly live up to the hype, although he easily defeated Jonathan Rice (13-6-1, 9 KOs) at the MGM Grand Conference Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The aforementioned Rice spent the majority of his career as a journeymen and proved why tonight. He seldom threw punches but when he did, he found a home for a looping right hand.
Simply put, Ajagba did not look like the highly touted prospect that many pegged him out to be. Despite that, he did walk away with the unanimous decision victory.
Robeisy Ramirez vs Felix Caraballo
Robeisy Ramirez (5-1, 3 KOs) continues to put the shocking loss in his pro debut behind him. The Cuban native made it look easy as he trampled all over Felix Caraballo (13-3-2, 9 KOs).
If you managed to tune in to the first round, then that was all you needed to see. Each and every round was virtually the same as Ramirez cruised all night long.
Bryan Lua vs Luis Norambuena
Bryan Lua (6-0, 3 KOs) decided to give the judges the night off.
The undefeated lightweight prospect handed Luis Norambuena (4-7-1, 0 KOs) his third straight loss as he pounded the 28 year old via second round stoppage.
Jahi Tucker vs DeAndre Anderson
While most 17 year olds are cramming for future tests, newly turned pro Jahi Tucker (1-0, 1 KO) was busy acing his in the ring.
The Queens, New York native made a successful debut tonight at the MGM Grand Conference in Las Vegas Nevada.
His opponent on the night In DeAndre Anderson (1-2, 0 KOs) stood absolutely no chance and was pummeled in the first round.
Kasir Goldston vs Isaiah Varnell
Kasir Goldston (1-0, 0 KOs) may only be 17 years of age, but he looked poised and under control in his boxing debut tonight.
His opponent may have been much older in the 30 year old Isaiah Varnell (3-3, 2 KOs), but there was nothing he could do as Goldston toyed with him while cruising to a unanimous decision victory.
Jose Pedraza vs Javier Molina: Fight Preview
By: Hans Themistode
Jose Pedraza just won’t stop until he becomes a three weight world champion.
The Puerto Rican native will look to make it two wins in a row when he takes on Javier Molina later on tonight.
Pedraza’s last win was a much needed one as he outclassed former title challenger Mikkel LesPierre. The former two division titlist boxed circles around his man, dropping him several times over before cruising to a unanimous decision victory. The win boosted Pedraza’s (27-3, 13 KOs) stock after watching it hit an all-time low when he was thoroughly beaten by Jose Zepeda last year.
For Molina, he’s never found himself on the brink of a world title opportunity at any point in his career. But with five straight wins, including an upset over the once highly touted Amir Imam, Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) could be on the verge of his first shot at gold should he pick up the biggest win of his career Pedraza.
While the main event will get its fair share of attention, there are several other notable fights on this card as well.
Recent Top Rank signee Efe Ajagba will make his debut in the co main event slot as he takes on journeymen Jonathan Rice. Ajagaba, 26, jumped ship from Premier Boxing Champions to find a new home with Top Rank. He’ll look to make promoter Bob Arum happy as can be later on tonight.
Another fighter that Arum will most definitely have his eyes on is amateur star Robeisy Ramirez. He’ll look to dismantle Felix Caraballo much faster then his fellow Olympian Shakur Stevenson did when the two matched up earlier this year. In said contest, Stevenson got rid of his man in the sixth round, stopping him with a body shot.
The action kicks off in just a few hours at 8 PM Eastern Time on ESPN.
ESPN Boxing Results: Jose Pedraza Batters Mikkel LesPierre
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre
Jose Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) was given an additional two weeks when his original contest against Mikkel LesPierre (22-2-1, 10 KOs) fell through due to a positive COVID-19 test.
The former world champion was not too pleased and took out his aggression tonight at the MGM Grand Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
From the opening bell Pedraza busted up his man his shots to the head. But it was a shot to the body in that frame which had LesPierre running for the duration of the round.
While clearly trailing on the scorecards, Pedraza made things even more daunting as he scored a fifth round knockdown. From there it was smooth sailing for the former belt holder.
In the tenth and final round, Pedraza added the finishing touches with yet another knockdown. LesPierre proved that he had no quit in him as he staggered back to his feet and fought to the final bell.
His efforts however, were not rewarded as the judges scored the contest in Pedraza’s favor. The final tally of the contest were as followed 100-88 and two scores of 99-89 in favor of Pedraza.
Robeisy Ramirez vs Adan Gonzalez
It was shocking to see two time Olympic gold medal winner Robeisy Ramirez (4-1, 3 KOs) suffer defeat in his pro debut at the hands of Adan Gonzalez (5-3-2, 2 KOs).
Ramirez was dropped in the first round and outworked over the course of the contest. Tonight however, it was an entirely different story.
The two time gold medal winner completely outclassed Gonzalez in their rematch at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. When the final bell rang, Ramirez got exactly what he was looking for as all three judges scored it 60-54 in his favor.
Kingsley Ibeh vs Patrick Mailata
For the second time in one week, Kingsley Ibeh (5-1, 4 KOs) found himself on the winning side of a heavyweight contest. His latest victim, came in the form of Patrick Mailata (4-1, 2 KOs) at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
To start off their contest, both men threw heavy shots and landed as well. As things continued though, they became sloppier and sloppier as they became gassed.
At the end of six grueling rounds, Ibeh was elated when the judges sided with him in his contest against Mailata.
Danny Murray vs Elvis Rodriguez
It was a quick night’s work for Elvis Rodriguez (7-0-1, 7 KOs) as he stopped Danny Murray (5-4) in the very first round.
Murray was barely given a chance to break a sweat as the first punch that landed on his chin sent him down to the canvas. Referee Robert Hoyle began his count but quickly ruled the contest over when he realized how injured Murray was on the ground.
With seven knockouts to go with his seven career victories, hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach seemed pleased with the work of his young prospect.
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre: Fight Preview and Weigh-in Results
By: Hans Themistode
It was a feeling of déjà vu when Jose Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre faced off during yesterday’s weigh-ins.
Just two weeks prior they stepped onto the scales for a contest that never took place. Now however, their super lightweight matchup will officially go down at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Their contest has had its fair share of storyline twists and turns. For starters, their original date of June 18th, was scrapped when Jose Tavares, the manager of LesPierre, tested positive for COVID-19. The super lightweight contender did not produce any positive test results of his own but was still forced off the card.
The positive results Tavares may have been a blessing in disguise though. Policies regarding how many personnel are allowed inside the “bubble” was reduced along with a host of other rules. With a two week postponement came another change in the way this matchup will be contested. Originally, the 140 pound limit was the target mark. Now, both men have agreed to a weight limit of 144 pounds. Something they made comfortably during the weigh-ins.
For Pedraza, he’s looking for redemption inside of the ring. He’s lost two of his last three contests and has not held a world title since 2018. LesPierre on the other hand, is simply looking to one day grab a world title of his own. In his first bid to do so against Maurice Hooker in early 2019, he came up woefully short, losing nearly every round on the judges scorecards.
Joining Pedraza and LesPierre on the card will be one of the biggest upsets of 2019. Robeisy Ramirez came into the sport of boxing with all of the hype in the world. Not only had he won gold in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but in his latest gold winning effort, he defeated WBO featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson.
The bright star that was thought to be Ramirez’s professional career, was quickly dampened when he was dropped and ultimately lost to journeymen Adan Gonzales during his debut. He has since won three contests in a row, all via stoppage. He’ll look to get past his early career stain when the two rematch in the co main event.
The action kicks off at 8 PM ET tonight on ESPN. For the rest of the card and weigh-in results, scroll down below.
Jose Pedraza 143.9 pounds (26-3, 13 KOs) vs Mikkel LesPierre 143.5 pounds (22-1-1, 10 KOs)
Robeisy Ramirez 125.1 pounds (3-1, 3 KOs) vs Adan Gonzales 125.4 pounds (5-2-2, 2 KOs)
Albert Bell 133 pounds (16-0, 5KOs) vs Mark Bernaldez 132 pounds (20-3, 14KOs)
Carlos Jackson (16-0, 11KOs) 125.1 pounds vs Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas 125.9 pounds
Elvis Rodriguez 140.2 pounds (6-0-1, 6 KOs) vs Dan Murray 139.2 pounds (5-3)
Kingsley Ibeh 284.1 pounds (4-1, 4 KOs) vs Patrick Mailata 284 pounds (4-0, 2 KOs)
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre Rescheduled For July 2nd
By: Hans Themistode
The super lightweight contest between former two division world champion Jose Pedraza and contender Mikkel LesPierre has officially found a new date.
July 2nd, has officially been circled for both fighters to meet in the ring.
The two were originally supposed to meet on June 18th, as the headliner of Top Rank’s fourth Summer series show. Unfortunately for both men though, their contest was scrapped when LesPierre’s manager, Josie Taveras, contracted the virus.
Protocols were instantly followed as LesPierre and his team were immediately quarantined and tested. His results were negative, but due to contact tracing, he was not allowed to face Pedraza on the night.
With their contest slated to take place roughly two weeks from its original date, promoter Bob Arum is satisfied with the outcome for both sides.
“Mikkel and Jose deserve this opportunity,” said promoter Bob Arum in a recent press release. “I commend both camps for agreeing to reschedule this fight on short notice.”
Pedraza vs Mikkel wasn’t the only announcement that Arum made on the day.
Super lightweight contender and former title challenger Alex Saucedo returns to the ring after a seven month layoff. He’ll look to make it two wins in a row when he takes on Sonny Fredrickson in the main event of a June 30th card that will take place at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Arum has always had big expectations for the 26 year old Saucedo. He may have failed during his first bid to win a world title in November of 2018 against Maurice Hooker, but Arum’s enthusiasm hasn’t wavered one bit.
“Alex Saucedo is destined to be a world champion, but he has an incredibly tall task in Sonny Fredrickson. We have another great week in store at MGM Grand.”
Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre: Fight Preview
By: Hans Themistode
The last time former world champion Jose Pedraza was seen inside of the ring, he was losing a unanimous decision against Jose Zepeda. It wasn’t his best performance, nor was it his proudest moment. But Pedraza will get his chance to show that he still has plenty left in those 31 year old bones.
In the second Top Rank card of the week, Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre will be looking to gain some respect in the Super Lightweight division. Pedraza might be coming off a loss in his outing, but in the case of LesPierre, he made it look easy against Roody Pierre Paul. In his contest just before that one though, he picked up the first loss of his career against Maurice Hooker.
Losing is never fun, but it did place LesPierre on the map as a viable contender in the division. Now, with the sports world starved for action, LesPierre is getting his chance to show if he is the real deal or not.
The main event of Top Rank’s fourth card in two weeks seems to be evenly matched, but the rest of the event features several undefeated fighters looking to get over.
Unblemished Super Middleweight prospect David Kaminsky (6-0, 3 KOs) looks to make it seven wins in a row when he takes on Clay Collard (6-2-3, 2 KOs). It’s a matchup of two relatively unknown fighters which could leave the winner with a new fan base following a big time performance.
Those who are tuning into this card tomorrow night with the hopes of finding a more recognizable name though, should think again. Fighters such as Robert Rodriguez, Frevian Robles and a host of others fill out this event from top to bottom.
To check in to the seemingly non-stop boxing action presented by Top Rank, tune into ESPN at 8 PM/ET.