Jose Pedraza outpoints Ray Beltran; Isaac Dogboe impresses in first title defense
The last anyone saw of Jose Pedraza, he was partway out of the ring with his left arm wrapped around the bottom rope, hanging on for dear life — and also for his boxing life. “The Sniper” was counted out against Gervonta Davis and lost the IBF junior lightweight title in January 2017.
Pedraza, however, didn’t count himself out of anything.
Nineteen months later, Pedraza has found himself with another major title belt around his waist after upsetting WBO lightweight champion Ray “Sugar” Beltran (35-8-1, 21 knockouts) in his own backyard at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, as the main event of “Top Rank on ESPN” on Saturday night.
The victory for Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs) was emphatic, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 117-110 on the scorecards of Lisa Giampa and Robert Hoyle and 115-112 on Rubin Rocky Taylor’s card.
Punch stats showed Pedraza landing 160 of 556 (29%) total punches to Beltran’s 137-515 (27%). But it was the jab that Pedraza was most effective with, connecting on 62 of 189 (33%), to Beltran’s 18-137 (13%).
Pedraza’s victory opens up a December match with superstar Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“We followed the game plan and we didn’t deviate from that tonight,” Pedraza said. “We knew Beltran was tough. This fight was all about the focus, and that was a key tonight. It’s no secret now, and now it’s all about unifying this belt. I want all of the big names. I want Lomachenko; I want Mikey [Garcia].”
Pedraza did well early, flicking his jab at Beltran’s body. Sugar did very little in the opening round, and a cut seemed to form above his left eye. By the middle of the second round, Beltran’s left eye was leaking, opened more by a lead right hook out of a southpaw stance by Pedraza. It marked the sixth time in Beltran’s last seven fights that he had suffered a cut.
The crimson appeared to spark something in Beltran, who was more active in the second, going to the body and the head.
In the fifth, Pedraza converted to an orthodox stance and appeared to be holding a slight edge, fighting Beltran’s fight, inside at close quarters. Pedraza went back to southpaw in the sixth.
Feeling some urgency, Beltran once again picked up the pace and Pedraza tried establishing his southpaw jab to keep him at a distance. Beltran’s left eye was swelling and the cut was opening more.
In the ninth round, Beltran’s left hand began flaring up; it’s the same hand he hurt when he beat Paulus Moses in February for the vacant WBO lightweight title.
“I don’t want to make any excuses,” Beltran said afterward. “Pedraza fought a good fight.”
The fight looked even entering the final two rounds. Beltran was the one who kept coming at Pedraza, who caught the 37-year-old coming straight forward in the 11th with a perfect left uppercut, dropping the defending titlist on his butt.
Beltran was fighting for his title and his relevance in the 12th. He would crowd Pedraza, though wouldn’t throw any punches as he came near the challenger. In the final 15 seconds, it was Pedraza who found an extra gear and took it to Beltran, trapping him in the corner and hitting him at will.
Beltran is 37 and he looked it. When asked what his future looks like, he said, “I don’t know.”
In the co-feature, WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe (20-0, 14 KOs) continued to look devastating. He made easy work of 5-foot-7½ Japanese challenger Hidenori Otake (31-3-3, 14 KOs), stopping him at 2:18 of the first round. It’s the first time Otake had ever been stopped.
Dogboe got inside the taller Otake’s reach and knocked the challenger down twice in the first round, the first time with a punishing, plowing left hook at 1:36 left in the opening stanza. The knockdown was set up by a strong, steady diet of body shots that had Otake lowering his guard.
Dogboe creased Otake’s defense with a textbook left hook to the chin. The second knockdown occurred with 1:11 remaining in the round. An overhand right made that possible.
The end came when referee Chris Flores saw Otake in real potential danger after eating about four stunning left hooks to the head, mixed in with more body work.
It was quick. It was efficient. And it had to make the rest of the 122-pound class take notice, if they haven’t already.
Undefeated WBC junior feather champ Rey Vargas and IBF titlist T.J. Doheny certainly have to be in Dogboe’s sights, as does WBA titlist Daniel Roman.
But do they want any part of the powerful Dogboe?
“We contacted all of these other so-called champions and they all failed to sign a contract,” Dogboe said. “I’m the new kid on the block. All of these guys out there, let’s do this.”
In a six-round super featherweight fight, Mikaela Mayer (7-0, 4 KOs) was a third-round TKO winner over Edina Kiss (15-8, 9 KOs). Mayer punished the shorter Kiss to the body, and Kiss decided she’d enough after three rounds.
“I wanted to go one more round,” said Mayer, a 2016 Olympian who knocked down Kiss in the first round. “I want to start going for the belts. I think I’m ready.”