Richard Commey and Jose Pedraza came to the ring at the Hard Rock in Tulsa, Oklahoma and strode to the Top Rank ring for the ESPN main event which looked like an even fight, on paper. Both pros for 11 years, in their mid 30s, coming off losses. In fact, that perception played out as reality, with one judge seeing it 97-93 for Pedraza, another 96-94 for Commey, and a 95-95 card resulted in a split draw.
Now, there's BoxRec reality, and the version that I thought transpired. My hyper unofficial card saw Jose Pedraza winning by a few points, he was the superior ring general. Both men were cordial, and no one weeped or stomped after the decision was shared, for what it's worth.
CompuBox had Jose Pedraza going 165-496 to 149-684 for Commey, for the record.
After, Pedraza spoke:
“Even though my eye was inflamed, we understood that it was done because he has a good right hand. The entire night, the whole point was to neutralize that right hand. Despite the fact that it was inflamed, I was able to do that.”
Rounds nine and ten were crucial: “I landed a great body shot. I felt that I hurt him, and that gave me the inspiration to keep going after him. I actually believe those were the rounds that gave me the victory tonight, despite what the scorecards say.”
And what’s next? “I’ve never turned down a fight, and I’m not going to start now. Whatever Top Rank wants for me. If they demand a rematch, I’m ready to give Richard Commey a rematch because he deserves and I have the utmost respect for him. Ultimately, my goal is to win a world title once again. Whatever I have to do, that’s what I’m willing to do.
Commey wasn’t as chatty: “It is a draw. Obviously, I have to go back home and see my people. I love my people, and I gotta go back there, do what I gotta do.”
Jose Pedraza (age 33) came in 29-4, with 14 KOs, while Commey (from Ghana, lives in NYC; age 35) was 30-4, with 27 KOs for this 140 pound unofficial eliminator.
Did it matter that both men had faced, and lost via decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko. Maybe, maybe not…Commey hadn't stepped in for real since that Loma tussle in December 2021, and Jose Pedraza, last seen losing to Jose Ramirez, met the ring wiz in 2018.
In the first, both men got cooking quicker than usual, maybe. Jose Pedraza said coming in he'd be busier than he was at times versus Ramirez, and his body work did indeed impress. The PR man finished up lefty.
In the second, Commey came out wanting to be busier. He landed two launches that seemed to be quite flush, but Pedraza collected himself. Pedraza went lefty 1:35, and he's smooth as a lefty. Then Commey went back to attacking the body, and yes, this session probably went his way.
In the third, Commey again fought with verve, while the analysts thought that Jose Pedraza looked maybe a bit off. Also, blood came from his nose and his left eye was swollen.
In the fourth, Commey backed Jose Pedraza up to start the round, but he answered, as a lefty, with a straight left to the body. Tim Bradley noted that now Commey wasn't as busy, and that both men are prone to being inconsistent like that. Things settled, rhythm wise, in the fifth, because Pedraza perked up. Commey gave Pedraza time to set and room to work, and the Commey cornerman Andre Rozier yelled for him to target Pedraza's eye.
To round six–Commey heard it in the corner and came out having listened. He wasn't so polite, in giving Jose Pedraza space. A head clash then occurred ab at 1:50, we saw blood on Commey's eye. The Ghana man tried to trap Pedraza on the ropes and the PR boxer slid smartly and stayed cool. A left then thumped Commey, and he pawed at his left eye, bothered by the blood. Commey landed a right that had the crowd enthused.
In the seventh, Pedraza looked in charge of his space, he was dipping, moving, looking like his head, hands and legs were in sync. Commey looked hesitant, not as confident as Pedraza, but he tried to steal the round with late activity. In the eighth, Commey stayed on the outside, maybe because he was looking to save energy for late-late.
During round nine, Commey did indeed come out amped. Jose Pedraza, though, took command of the ring, he looked more energized. He then slipped a few punches, and countered crisply, so obviously that the crowd took note. Commey tried to empty his holster, but Pedraza was seeing 'em coming. Body work hurt Commey, who was back to the ropes and in some distress. Pedraza looked fresh, much more alive than at the start of the clash. “Richard, why'd you give him the ninth round,” asked Rozier of Commey after the round. “For your kids,” Rozier whispered to the Ghana boxer.
In the tenth, Commey started peppy. Jose Pedraza, however, waited him out, and got in his gear in the middle. Pedraza was the attacker mostly in the home stretch. Then Commey scored with a right, then another, and yet another. Where was this directness and accuracy before? We'd go to the cards.