SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 2, 2020 – Former two-division champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza of Puerto Rico enjoyed his delayed gratification Thursday night with a dominant win over with Mikkel LesPierre of Brooklyn.
Jose Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre were originally scheduled to be the first main event for Top Rank Boxing and ESPN in the pandemic era. But the fight was scrubbed when LesPierre’s manager Jose Taveras tested positive. As testing protocols were altered and LesPierre’s manager got a clear test, the fight was put back on the schedule.
The layoff didn’t derail Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs), who delivered double the offensive output of Les Pierre (22-3-1 10 KOs) including a knockdown en route to an unquestioned decision win. Scores were 100-88, 99-89 X 2.
In spite of the delay and the recent death of his grandmother, Pedraza said he was prepared. “I had it all coming together for me. In boxing, you can’t have an off night. I put it all together this evening because I couldn’t afford not to. That’s the kind of performance you get from me when I’m 100 percent focused.”
Sniper’s performance right on target
True to his nickname “Sniper,” Pedraza was extremely aggressive, landing combination power punches peppered with draining body shots. Les Pierre told his corner after the second round the bodywork was hurting him. He began bleeding from the nose, but he did his best to stand up to Pedraza and compete.
In the fifth round, LesPierre landed a punch with Pedraza off-balance who backed off to avoid the punch and tripped, originally called a knockdown by referee Kenny Bayliss. Ruefully shaking his head, Pedraza returned fire and scored a legitimate knockdown less than a minute later. After the start of the sixth round, the action stopped while Bayliss and replay referee Robert Byrd reviewed the video. Bayliss has the sole discretion to reverse the knockdown, and he did. It was troublesome timing not to make the decision prior to the start of the round.
It provided a significant pause in the action. It may have given LesPierre a little bit of a rest, but it gave Pedraza even more fuel for the rest of the fight.
One minute into the tenth and final round, Pedraza dropped LesPierre a second time with a solid left hand. LesPierre wearily got to his feet. Pedraza wanted to close the show, with referee Bayliss keenly watching LesPierre. LesPierre showed his heart and gave everything he had left to make it to the final bell.
Pedraza landed 168 of 406 punches thrown (41 percent) to just 68 of 443 punches for LesPierre (16 percent). Nevertheless, LesPierre should take pride in his effort. He is a frontline healthcare worker in New York at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was willing to quit his job after missing the original June 14 date. Fortunately, his employers allowed him to stay in Las Vegas in The Bubble, and now he’ll return to the pandemic frontlines where he is an undisputed champion.
Pedraza would love to be a champion once again, saying he’d fight either of the champions at 140 pounds, Jose Ramirez or Josh Taylor. “They are both quality fighters and I hope one of them will accept my challenge.”
Albert Bell hurts hand, still cruises to win over Mark Bernaldez
Albert Bell of Toledo (17-0, 5 KOs) took care of his business with ease against Mark Bernaldez of General Santos City, Philippines (20-4, 14 KOs). Scorecards were all 100-90 for a unanimous decision shutout. With his boxing skills and a 73-inch reach at junior lightweight, he had little reason to bang or brawl with Bernaldez. But he stayed active and busy, landing double the number of punches as his opponent without taking any significant shots. But Bell appeared to injure his right hand during the ten-round bout. It didn’t stop him from executing his tactical game plan. Bell is winning at this level with ease, but if his fights keep being described as dull, he’ll need to step up in opposition and challenge himself soon.
Elvis Rodriguez rocks Danny Murray in one round
Elvis Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic (7-0-1, 7 KOs) showed why so many people are high on his future. The Freddie Roach trained prospect scored a devastating first-round knockout of Danny Murray of New Jersey (5-4) at 2:13 of the round. Rodriguez caught Murray with a crisp, short right hook, and blasted him nearly out of The Bubble. Murray told his corner he “broke something” and left for medical treatment.
Busy Ibeh gets second win in eight days
If heavyweight Kingsley Ibeh of Phoenix via Nigeria (5-1, 4 KOs) seemed familiar to you, you’re right. Ibeh corrected the single loss on his record with a rematch victory over Waldo Cortes last Thursday by fourth-round TKO. He came right back for more just a week later against Patrick Mailata of New Zealand (4-2, 2 KOs). This time, he went the full six rounds, squeaking out a majority decision win. Scores were 58-56 X 2 and 57-57.
The insurance salesman turned boxer might have been a little ambitious. Mailata is a native of Samoa and a former rugby player who took up boxing after a knee injury. He went to work on Ibeh’s body, and the plan appeared to be working as Ibeh seemed to tire. But thanks to nonstop encouragement from trainer Ricky ‘Ricardo’ Rodriguez, Ibeh kept up the effort and made it to the bell, delivering a good final round to grab the win. You have to love Ibeh’s drive, rare these days in modern prizefighting.
Robiesy Ramirez avenges his one pro loss over Gonzales
Featherweight Robiesy Ramirez (4-1, 3 KOs) was hailed as boxing’s next big star after winning a gold medal at the Rio Olympics for Cuba, then promptly lost his pro debut to Adan Gonzales of Denver (5-3, 2 KOs) last August in a split decision. Ramirez got his rematch Thursday and avenged his loss with a shutout unanimous decision. Judges scored it a shutout, 60-54.
“The biggest difference was last time, I got dropped in the first round and it really threw me off my game plan,” said Ramirez. “Everything was different tonight. In this fight, I did pretty much everything I wanted to do right. The one thing missing was that really big shot.”
Ramirez showed far more aggression the second time around, at times a bit too much with a shove or late punch. If this means he gets mad about losing, that’s OK as long as he channels it productively.
Off the broadcast, Carlos Jackson of Atlanta (16-0, 11 KOs) was probably just as glad he didn’t get nationwide exposure as he suffered his first loss to Jose Enrique Vivas of Montebello, California (18-2, 10 KOs). Scores were all 97-93.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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