Eusebio Pedroza, featherweight champ for seven years, dies at age 62
Many fighters earn the “road warrior” tag in their careers, but few wore it as prominently as did Eusebio Pedroza. Of his 19 successful title defenses – a record for the featherweight division – 13 were on foreign soil. It was rare for Pedroza to face a prominent opponent on home soil in Panama, but he still managed to hold on to the title for seven years.
Pedroza died Friday, March 1 at his home in Panama City. The cause of death is pancreatic cancer.
Pedroza fought professionally from 1973 to 1992 and fell short in his first attempt at a world title in 1976, being knocked out in two rounds by Alfonso Zamora for the WBA bantamweight title after another KO loss in his next fight, Pedroza went unbeaten in his next 26 fights, capturing the WBA featherweight title two years later in 1978 with a 13th round stoppage of Cecilio Lastra.
Among the notables he faced in title defenses were Ruben Olivares (TKO12), Juan Laporte (UD15), and Rocky Lockridge, whom he defeated the first time in a controversial split decision before winning a more convincing unanimous decision in the rematch.
Standing at 5’8”, Pedroza was unusually tall for the division, and made use of his height by outboxing most foes behind his sharp jab. He had uncommon reflexes and was capable making opponents miss with his head movement, and could uncoil his long arms to throw whip-like combinations to the head and body.
“Pedroza was one of history’s best stretch-drive fighters,” said The Ring’s Lee Groves in a previous article about Pedroza. “Everyone knew that rounds 11 through 15 was Pedroza’s turf. He seemed to draw strength from his opponents’ weakness and, once he sensed that weakness, he put the hammer down.”
The night most would remember of his career was on June 8, 1985, when Pedroza traveled to London to face “The Clones Cyclone” Barry McGuigan. McGuigan’s homeland of Ireland was deeply entrenched in a period known as The Troubles, but at least on this night, the Irish stood united to cheer on McGuigan as he lifted the title from Pedroza by unanimous decision in front of 26,000 fans.
McGuigan took to Twitter to pay tribute to Pedroza, calling it a “sad day for me,” and adding “it was a pleasure to share the ring with him.”
A sad day for me as my rival and outstanding World Featherweight Champion Eusebio Pedroza passes away aged 62 RIP. Pedroza is one of the longest reigning Featherweight Champion in history, it was a pleasure to share the ring with him ? https://t.co/qVYXpy4p7e
— Barry McGuigan (@ClonesCyclone) March 1, 2019
Pedroza fought infrequently afterwards, coming back in Panama to lose a split decision 14 months later in 1986, then launching a short-lived comeback in 1991 before retiring for good.
Pedroza had a career record of 41-6-1 (25 knockouts) and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999.