Jose Pedraza did better than most smarts said he would against Vasyl Lomachenko at the MSG Theater on Saturday, and on ESPN.
But, big but. He didn’t do enough to down Loma, who might have had a lil coat of rust coming off a shoulder injury affecting him.
You wouldn’t have known that in a sick round 11, though, when Loma (240-738 on CompuBox, 32% landed) flurried for what seemed like two minutes, and knocked the Puerto Rican to the mat twice.
Pedraza (111-931, 11% landed), whose stock rises with the loss, made it to the 12th and evaded the Ukrainian enough to hear the final bell. Alas, he also heard what those in attendance knew, that Loma had this thing in hand.
By scores of 119-107 (Tom Schreck), 117-109 (Steve Weisfeld, the best in the biz), 117-109 (Joseph Pasquale) Loma added another 135 pound belt to his collection.
No, the width of the scores don't at all tell you the story of the bout. If we were able to, some of those rounds would have been scored 10-9.5.
The crowd of 5,312, the fire marshal’s limit, roared at every Loma launch and landing.
In the first, the lefty Loma waited and scouted. He used mini steps, dipped right and left, leaned, searched for the holes. Pedraza mostly watched, sort of mesmerized. VL used more level changes as the round progressed.
In the second, Loma closed the distance and started pecking away more. Pedraza feinted, and the crowd ahhhed when Loma landed a clean lead. The majestic footwork of Loma is almost enough to win him rounds based on that alone.
In the third, Pedraza was weaving right and left, not committing to much, knowing there’d be countering hell to pay. A three punch combo landed on the PR man, and the Loma fans roared.
In the fourth, the Ukrainian wiz followed Pedraza, who slid to his right. He then went lefty himself, and stalked Loma. And the PR man stayed lefty! But got tagged three times late in the round.
In the fifth, Loma saw a righty Pedraza. Then lefty….and late Loma worked a few flurries that jazzed the crowd.
In the sixth, Loma’s D was gorgeous. And his jab was snappier. But the Sniper was fighting smart. He was staying savvy and aware. He didn’t over commit and thus Loma didn’t have openings to find and exploit.
In the seventh, more pressure from VL. Lots more, and Pedraza held pretty tough. Back to lefty he went. His sniping as he back tracked maybe gave him the round.
In the 8th, Jose’s body attack landed loudly. Then Jose stopped moving…and Loma was getting clean looks. But Sniper remembered his legs and finished well.
In 9, Loma hunted and pressured Sniper. He didn’t flurry every time he could have, you know him, he’s economical. But in about four spots, he did land multiple shots, and he grabbed that round.
In 10, lefty Sniper landed a right hook to the body that ricocheted off the back wall. Then a right hook to the head…he was taking the round. He won the round, and yes, he was doing better than 95% of the smarts predicted.
In 11, down went Sniper. It was a minute long flurry! Down again….Up late and the bell rang. Body shots were hurtful both times.
In 12, Pedraza ran to stay aloft. No shame in that….We'd go to the cards…
Here is the release Top Rank sent out after:
Lomachenko (12-1 9 KOs,) defeated Pedraza (25-2, 12 KOs) via unanimous decision in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,312 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden to unify world titles for the first time in his illustrious career.
Scores were 119-107 and 117-109 2X.
“It was my dream to unify titles,” Lomachenko said. “It was my next goal. I can now focus on my next chapter.
“He's a veteran. He did a very good job, and I respect Pedraza and his team.”
Said Pedraza: “I am happy with my performance tonight. I went 12 rounds with the best fighter in the world. I knew what we were going up against. I thought it was a close fight until the knockdowns. At the end of the day, I am proud of what I did.”
It was tactical fight, as Pedraza's long arms kept Lomachenko at bay for much of the night. In the 11th round, Lomachenko, turned up the heat, scoring a pair of body shot knockdowns as Pedraza barely survived the round.
For Lomachenko, it's on to the next challenge.
Navarrete Stuns Dogboe to Win Title
Emanuel Navarrete beat the long odds and stunned the rising superstar, Isaac Dogboe, via unanimous decision to win the WBO junior featherweight world title. The scores (116-112 2X, 115-113) reflected the action, as Navarrete was the aggressor throughout the fight
Navarrete (26-1, 22 KOs) stopped the streaking momentum of Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs), who was making his second title defense.
“I thank Dogboe for this opportunity,” Navarrete said. “This world championship represents every day that I was working away from my family. This title represents sacrifice. I injured my right hand early in the fight, but I had the desire to be a champion and I did everything necessary to get the title, and I am very happy and proud to achieve this goal of being the world champion.”
Said Dogboe: “It was a great fight, and Emanuel Navarrete fought like a true Mexican warrior. Champions are supposed to keep going under any circumstance, but I just couldn’t get the victory. The best man won tonight.”
The Teofimo Express Rolls On
Teofimo Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs) showed why, at age 21, he is the sport's fastest rising star, knocking out Mason Menard with a right hand at only 44 seconds of the opening round. Menard (34-4, 24 KOs) fell face-first, and the fight was immediately waved off.
“I knew he was a tough fighter. I knew he could fight,” Lopez said. “I wanted to test him, and I took a chance early in the fight. I know he trained hard, and he didn't want it to go that way. But this is ‘The Takeover.' ‘The Takeover' has begun.
“In 2019, I will be a world champion. That's a guarantee.”
In other results:
Alexander Besputin (12-0, 9 KOs) defended his USBA welterweight belt with a 10-round unanimous decision (100-88 3X) over Juan Carlos Abreu (21-5-1, 19 KOs) in a foul-filled bout.
“He fought a very uncomfortable, dirty fight, but I dominated,” Besputin said. “I am ready for a world title fight next.”
Heavyweight Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello came, saw, and conquered in his pro debut, knocking out Luke Lyons (5-2-1, 2 KOs) at :29 of the second round. Vianello, a native of Rome, represented Italy at the 2016 Olympics.
“It was a dream come true to make my professional debut at Madison Square Garden,” Vianello said. “I hope I did Italy proud. I came here tonight to score a knockout, and I delivered.”
Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas (12-1, 8 KOs), a Bronx native, put on a show for the hometown fans, scoring three knockdowns en route to a fifth-round TKO against John Renteria (16-6-1, 12 KOs). Vargas has now won six straight since a controversial disqualification defeat.
In an upset to start the evening, super lightweight Abdiel Ramirez (24-3-1, 22 KOs) stopped Michael “The Artist” Perez (25-3-2, 12 KOs) in the eighth and final round. Perez, from Newark, N.J., a longtime contender, was returning from a nearly 20-month layoff. Perez was leading on all three scorecards (68-64, 68-64, 66-65) at the time of the stoppage.
Brian Ceballo (6-0, 3 KOs) cruised to a four-round unanimous decision against Daniel Calzada by identical scores of 40-36