Jose Pedraza attempts to continue to scale the ten stone world title ladder with victory over the improving Javier Molina on the latest Top Rank show inside the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Former two-weight world champion, Pedraza, 31, has some tough opponents on his slate and has only lost in good company, holding an eighth round stoppage win over Tevin Farmer, who would go on to become world champion.
The Puerto Rican became IBF Super-Featherweight world champion in June 2015, claiming the vacant belt with a wide points win against Andrey Klimov.
‘Sniper’ made two defences, including a points win against Liverpool’s Stephen Smith, before shipping his title to the excellent Gervonta Davis via seventh round stoppage in January 2017.
A move to Lightweight was the response to defeat and after two wins at the new weight, Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) dethroned WBO champion, Raymundo Beltran, to become a two-weight world champion.
The joy was short lived, as Vasiliy Lomachenko dazzled in relieving him of his title on the cards at the back end of 2018.
After a comeback win, Pedraza moved up again to Super-Lightweight, but lost on his debut at the weight to Jose Zepeda, who took a ten round decision.
This defeat left him at a crossroads, but he came back well at the start of July this year, where he dominated Mikkel LesPierre over ten rounds inside The Bubble, dropping the Canadian twice. He will hope to continue this progress against Molina.
California-based Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) has made strides since signing with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, winning four straight fights under their guidance so far.
The 30-year-old was last defeated in January 2016, where he was outscored by Jamal James over ten.
Since then he has won five on the bounce, and after three eight round points wins, he flattened Hiroki Okada in just over a minute in November 2019.
His last fight came on the undercard of Tyson Fury’s stunning win over Deontay Wilder in February, where he took an eight round decision win against former world title challenger Amir Imam.
Prediction: Pedraza looked far from finished in an impressive win against LesPierre last time out, and will look to continue to edge his way towards a shot at a world title at a third different weight class.
Molina has impressed too in his Top Rank outings so far, but I feel Pedraza will have too much seasoning for him and can take a well earned points win in this one.
Heading the preliminaries is yet another Heavyweight hope in scheduled ten round action. Texas-based Nigerian, Efe Ajagba makes a second appearance of 2020, where he takes on Los Angeles based Jonathan Rice (13-5-1, KO9).
Ajagba (13-0, 11 KOs), who signed with Top Rank in August and was listed as a future opponent by Fury, has been steadily stepping up in opposition lately, but Rice (13-5-1, 9 KOs) shouldn’t cause him too many problems in what should be an early win.
The six rounders on the card include Brian Lua (5-0, 2 KOs) at Lightweight and Leo Ruiz (7-0, 5 KOs) at Super-Welterweight.
Two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Robeisy Ramirez (4-1, 3 KOs) continues his education in the paid ranks with a Featherweight assignment over eight against Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs), who lost to Shakur Stevenson in six last time out.
Ramirez pipped Stevenson to claim Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The six rounders on the card include a Super-Middleweight contest between Christian Montano (9-0, 7 KOs) and Ryan Adams (7-2-1, 6 KOs).
Brian Lua (5-0, 2 KOs) appears at Lightweight, and Leo Ruiz (7-0, 5 KOs) at Super-Welterweight, also over six, with opponents to be confirmed.
There are two debutants at Welterweight, as Jahi Tucker and Kasir Goldston make their bows against Deandre Anderson (1-1,) and Isaiah Varnell (3-2, 2 KOs) respectively, over four rounds.
Rounding off the card is a Super-Featherweight four rounder between Frevian Gonzalez Robles (3-0, 1 KO) and Carlos Marrero (2-3-1).