Jose Pedraza faces Mikkel LesPierre in a rearranged fight, scheduled for two weeks ago in ‘The Bubble’ inside the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on Thursday.
The pair were set to meet in an intriguing clash at Super-Lightweight but the fight was scuppered originally as LesPierre’s manager, Jose Tavares tested positive for COVID-19.
The whole of team LesPierre were forced to vacate The Bubble, but thankfully the 35-year-old (22-1-1, KO10) is allowed to return to face Pedraza (26-3, KO13) over the ten round distance, as he is symptom free.
Two-weight World champion, Pedraza, has been matched tough in his career to date, and his losses have come against some quality operators.
A professional since 2011, Pedraza scored an early career, eighth round stoppage win over Tevin Farmer in October 2012.
Then in his 20th fight he claimed the vacant IBF Super Featherweight belt, with a dominant points victory over Andrey Klimov, in June 2015.
He successfully defended the belt twice. Firstly edging a split decision over Edner Cherry and then taking over in the championship rounds against Liverpool’s Stephen Smith to score a clear points win, aided by a ninth round knockdown.
His first loss came in January 2017, as the gifted Gervonta Davis stopped ‘Sniper’ in seven, to relieve him of his title.
He resurfaced up at Lightweight and two comeback wins set up a shot at the WBO belt. An eleventh round knockdown was the exclamation point of a win on the cards against the tough Raymundo Beltrán.
The joy would be short-lived though for the Puerto Rican, as he attempted to unify in his next bout.
In his attempt to add the WBA ‘Super’ strap, he came up against the superlative Vasiliy Lomachenko, and the Ukrainian dominated, scoring two eleventh round knockdowns, to take a wide decision win.
The rebuild for ‘Sniper’ was initially at Lightweight, stopping Antonio Lozada Jr with a ninth round stoppage.
Pedraza’s last fight came at Super-Lightweight in September 2019, and saw a third career defeat to two-time World title challenger Jose Zepeda over ten rounds on the undercard of Tyson Fury’s victory over Otto Wallin at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
Trinidad-born Brooklynite, LesPierre will be looking to gatecrash his way into title contention, and a win over an established name like Pedraza would be a real statement of intent.
LesPierre has only two blemishes on his slate, with a draw in his second fight against Cornelius Whitlock over four rounds coming in October 2012.
He went 20 fights unbeaten from then on, picking up WBC FECARBOX and WBC USNBC belts along the way.
His big chance came in March last year, when challenging Maurice Hooker for the WBO Super-Lightweight title on a DAZN card at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona.
It was a competitive affair, but mostly one sided with Hooker always in control. ‘Mighty Mo’ dropped his foe in the ninth, and Mikkel barely beat the count, but gamely survived to hear the final bell, where he was routed on the cards.
He has returned once since, notching an eight round points win in December 2019 against Roody Pierre Paul in New York.
Prediction: This could be a really intriguing contest, with LesPierre a bona fide 140 pounder, and Pedraza only having one unsuccessful fight at the weight. Pedraza does have mileage on the clock, and hasn’t looked the same man as in his championship days for a while. I favour an upset win for LesPierre on the cards.
The highlight of the undercard for should be the six-rounder at Featherweight. Robeisy Ramirez (3-1, 3 KOs) was an amateur sensation, and a double Olympic champion, beating WBO Featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson in 2016, but was stunned on his professional debut in August last year.
Colorado’s unheralded Adan Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 KOs) dropped the Cuban in the opener, and eventually took a well earned four round points win.
Ramirez has looked much more impressive in winning his subsequent three contests, including on the undercard of Stevenson’s win over Caraballo in June and a rematch with Gonzales is to be commended.
Prediction: Over the extended distance, Ramirez should be able to get the job done, possibly on the cards.
At Lightweight over ten rounds, Ohio’s Albert Bell (16-0, 5 KOs) continues his education, this time against Filipino Mark Bernaldez (20-3, 14 KOs).
Bell exclusively revealed to Pro Boxing Fans that he had originally signed to face Jamel Herring. However, before testing positive for COVID-19, the WBO Super-Featherweight champion had decided to face another opponent.
All of Bernaldez’s defeats have come outside his native Philippines, with two coming by stoppage. Bell has won five of his last seven by the decision.
A Super-Lightweight, a six round contest sees hard-hitting Dominican, Elvis Rodriguez (6-0-1, 6 KOs) take on Dan Murray (5-3) and at 126lbs big-punching Carlos Jackson (16-0, 11 KOs) tackles Jose Enrique Vivas (18-1, 10 KOs) over ten rounds.
In another Featherweight bout Luis Melendez (8-1, 6 KOs) is scheduled in an eight rounder against an opponent yet to be confirmed, whilst there’s a Heavyweight dust-up between unbeaten Samoan Patrick Mailata (4-0, 2 KOs) and Nigerian prospect Kingsley Ibeh (4-1, 4 KOs)