Keyshawn Davis will face the toughest test of his professional career so far when he takes on Jose Pedraza tomorrow night in Las Vegas as the chief support to Teofimo Lopez vs Jamaine Ortiz.
At just 24 years old with an extensive amateur career and an undefeated record, no one can deny the potential that Davis possesses.
But after testing positive for marijuana in his last fight and getting his unanimous win over Nahir Albright overturned into a no-contest, it’s fair to question the discipline of ‘The Businessman.’
The Word on Weed
Of course, marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug.
The violation was not like Conor Benn failing two tests for clomiphene – a substance that can increase testosterone levels and lead to better strength.
Although if you’re smoking weed in the build-up to your tenth pro contest, there are justifiable questions about your commitment to the sport and whether you have the determination required to become a world champion one day.
And Pedraza happens to be the perfect opponent for Davis to find out where he sits as a young prospect and if he has the minerals to reach the pinnacle of boxing.
Might Pedraza Stop Keyshawn Momentum?
With a record of 29-5-1, the ‘Sniper’ is not a world beater – the former IBF super featherweight world champion is not going to break into the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings anytime soon.
However, Pedraza is a phenomenal gatekeeper and is there to keep any up-and-coming fighters honest.
After all, the 34-year-old has shared the ring with some of the best boxers of this generation, namely Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis – both of whom beat Pedraza in style, solely because they are special athletes.
Yet when you look at Pedraza’s relatively competitive losses to Jose Zepeda, Jose Carlos Ramirez, and most recently, Arnold Barboza Jr, it's clear this is a man who never comes to lie down.
Tough, rugged, and possessing the come-forward style many South Americans are famous for, Pedraza is ideal for Keyshawn Davis’ development.
Bob Arum will just hope that Pedraza doesn’t take too much shine away from his future star or causes a major upset because boxing is a business and the 135 lb and 140 lb divisions are stacked with talent.
Who’s to say Keyshawn Davis can’t one day share the ring with Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Shakur Stevenson, Lomachenko, or even Arnold Barboza Jr?
Not to mention Teofimo Lopez, who’s facing his own banana skin and couldn't help but interrogate ‘The Businessman’ at the final press conference about recent comments he made regarding Terence Crawford.
The side-by-side confrontation ended in a respectful tone with a wry smile from both, though the tension was palpable and if that interaction transforms into an aggressive face-off in the future, few would be surprised.
Will the Pressure of Expectations Get To Keyshawn?
In a nutshell, the pressure is all on Davis to get the job done in emphatic fashion against Pedraza.
He’s the one who claimed a silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics and has been on the hype train since making his professional debut in 2021.
And in his first contest of 2024, the boxing fraternity will find out if the Virginia native is the real deal.
Keyshawn Davis vs Jose Pedraza Prediction
Keyshawn Davis is likely to get the victory against Jose Pedraza via points in what promises to be an all-action contest.
Now in the twilight stages of his career, Pedraza is not going to suddenly change his style and turn into Floyd Mayweather Jr on the back foot.
Therefore, Davis will have plenty of opportunities to land his power punches on Pedraza, who will march forward from the opening bell, especially as he is the slightly taller man at five foot, nine.
Davis may use his jab as a rangefinder before unleashing combinations to Pedraza’s head and body.
However, the underdog has proven to have a strong chin and be extremely durable so it's difficult to see Davis knocking Pedraza out or even getting a stoppage.
It’s not a coincidence that Pedraza only has one knockout loss on his record, which was against one of the biggest pound-for-pound punchers in the world – ‘Tank’ Davis.
With six of his nine wins coming via knockout, Keyshawn Davis does have power, though there is nothing to suggest it is elite.
As for Pedraza, the Puerto Rican does like to alternate between orthodox and southpaw, which could prove awkward for Davis.
But with a knockout ratio of less than 50%, Pedraza has very little chance to buzz Davis or drop him – his only real chance is to overwhelm and outwork his opponent.
Overall, Davis is a strong favorite to emerge victorious against Pedraza, yet he must produce a dominant performance to further increase his stock.