Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/30): Table of Contents:
- Jose Pedraza Punches Ticket To Vasiliy Lomachenko Showdown (Page 1)
- Curtis Harper: The Walk Heard Around The World (Page 2)
- Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury Official? (Page 3)
- Wanheng Menayothin Reaches 51-0 (Page 4)
- Details on WBSS Cruiserweight 2: Electric Boogaloo (Page 5)
Jose Pedraza Punches Ticket To Vasiliy Lomachenko Showdown:
On August 25, we saw the crowning of a new WBO lightweight champion in Jose Pedraza, but more importantly, we have Vasiliy Lomachenko’s next opponent for a planned Top Rank card in Los Angeles on December 1.
Pedraza fended a rally by the now-former champion Raymundo Beltran in the main event of the August 25 Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card from Arizona to win the title by unanimous decision. Pedraza defeated Beltran by unanimous decision (117-110, 117-110, 115-112) to win the title, his second world title.
The Puerto Rican star should be commended on a well-deserved world title victory, but it should also be noted just how lucky Pedraza is to even get the opportunity to fight for the WBO title. Pedraza was not Beltran’s original opponent for August 25 as it was supposed to be WBO European champion Roman Andreev who was set to fight Beltran. Andreev underwent an appendectomy in early July and so the fight, which had Top Rank win a purse bid for, was changed to include Pedraza in the main event.
But even then, a fight against Andreev was actually not even Top Rank’s original plan as the idea of Beltran fighting on August 25 was actually going to be against Lomachenko, but since Lomachenko needed to have surgery on his shoulder for a torn labrum, the unification fight was put off until December.
However, if you were to go even deeper, Top Rank’s original intentions to have a Puerto Rican fight Beltran before Lomachenko was not even Pedraza. It was supposed to be former top prospect Felix Verdejo.
For two years, Verdejo was being groomed by Top Rank to eventually challenge for the WBO lightweight title that was held by Terry Flanagan. Unfortunately, Verdejo had a motorcycle accident in 2016 that stopped a potential Flanagan vs. Verdejo title bout that was close to being made official. It was hoped that even in 2018, Verdejo could fight for the WBO title if a unification fight doesn’t come first, but after Verdejo suffered a shocking upset loss against Antonio Lozada in March, Verdejo’s title chances have all been dashed as he is now damaged goods which Top Rank has absolutely no idea what to do now.
But now Pedraza can enjoy his world title win, joining four other Puerto Ricans who are current world champions (Jesus Rojas, Angel Acosta, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Alberto Machado).
Pedraza has the rare opportunity to become Puerto Rico’s next superstar for the next generation of boxing fans in the island. Miguel Cotto retired last year and he was Puerto Rico’s biggest star in the last 15 years, just like Felix Trinidad was the island’s superstar in the 1990s. The only thing Pedraza has to do is beat Lomachenko, which is a highly improbable feat, but the shortest route for any of the five current champions.
The thing about the aforementioned four other world champions in Puerto Rico is that they all have roadblocks that would make their roads to superstardom extremely difficult and very long. Acosta, the WBO light flyweight champion, suffers from being in a weight class that won’t give him any fights that will get him over with the crowd as this generation’s Cotto or Trinidad or Wilfredo Benitez. Rojas, the WBA “regular” featherweight champion, isn’t even the top WBA champion at featherweight and after losing a non-title fight to Joseph Diaz, Rojas does not have any momentum going for him. Machado, the WBA “regular” super featherweight champion, might just be the odd man out in making fights in a division featuring the likes of Tevin Farmer, Gervonta Davis, Miguel Berchelt and Masayuki Ito.
Finally, Emmanuel Rodriguez, the IBF bantamweight champion, has perhaps the highest ceiling among all five champions, but his involvement in the World Boxing Super Series means that he will have to likely fight Naoya Inoue and Ryan Burnett before winning the entire tournament.
Of course doing so would definitely turn Rodriguez into a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter and this generation’s next Puerto Rican megastar, but there’s two problems: The first being that the WBSS is going to be on DAZN in the United States and Canada and there’s no telling at this point if Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, will even be able to access DAZN when it launches September 10 and if Puerto Rico cannot access it, then Rodriguez’s exposure for the next year will be severely hampered. The second being that the tournament field is so stacked, unless you’re Inoue or Burnett, you’re going to come in as an extremely heavy underdog to win the whole tournament. I personally have Inoue winning the entire tournament and winning each fight by knockout, so I don’t believe Rodriguez has much of a shot to reach the WBSS finals next summer, much less win the whole thing.
August 25 Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results:
1. Isaac Dogboe defeated Hidenori Otake by TKO, round 1, to retain the WBO super bantamweight title: This brief fight proved that Dogboe is the top star at 122 pounds since Guillermo Rigondeaux is MIA with no timetable for his return. Otake was brought in as someone whom Dogboe would really have to punish right from the start in order to stop knock him out and he did.
2. Mikaela Mayer defeated Edina Kiss by RTD (corner stoppage), round 3: Kiss looked like a complete amateur compared to Mayer who has much less experience as a pro. Mayer towered over Kiss and punished the former title challenger with a series of combinations early. Kiss pretty much ran throughout the fight and it did not look like there was any chance she would win. Mayer is a potential star in the making even among all the other women’s boxing stars in the sport today.
3. Jose Pedraza defeated Raymundo Beltran by unanimous decision (117-110, 117-110, 115-112) to win the WBO lightweight title: The story early on in the fight is that Pedraza has been able to utilize his jab and keep Beltran from making the fight a rough and scrappy skirmish. Beltran suffered a cut near his right eye, but it didn’t seem to affect him, but as the fight progressed, Beltran started to get more and more chances to work the body and Pedraza started losing rounds. Pedraza then got back to outboxing Beltran late in the fight and retook the lead starting in the 10th round. The fight seemed to be over as far as the scorecards are concerned when Pedraza landed well-timed uppercut to knock down Beltran late in the 11th round. Pedraza unleashed a flurry of punches in the last 10 seconds of the fight that seriously hurt Beltran and if it were to continue for another 10 seconds, the fight would have surely been stopped in Pedraza’s favor. Now that Pedraza has the WBO title, he’ll likely be unifying titles with Vasiliy Lomachenko at the end of the year.
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