SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 19, 2020 – Former two-division champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza of Puerto Rico got the win he needed, defeating his former 2008 Beijing Olympic Games teammate, Javier Molina in Las Vegas by unanimous decision. Scorecards were 99-91and 98-92.
Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) and Molina (22-3, 9 KOs) both faced a must-win situation to stay relevant at the top of the super lightweight division. Pedraza was the stronger, more accurate fighter. He dictated the pace of the fight through all 12 rounds. He fought at a comfortable pace and at a distance where Molina had trouble finding him. His timing and footwork were solid as a rock. It was almost too easy for Pedraza to stay motivated.
Although Molina never backed down, he couldn’t make much of a dent in Pedraza’s attack. Molina suffered a cut between the eye and nose from an accidental headbutt. Cutman Mike Bazzel did what he could to help Molina and he kept him in the fight to the final bell. Molina overcame injury and out of the ring issues with substance abuse to put himself in the ring Saturday, a major life victory. He can walk away with his head held high.
Pedraza landed 164 of 519 punches thrown (32 percent), against just 49 of 338 punches for Molina (14 percent).
“They do name me the Sniper. It means I have to be patient and when my moment comes I have to take advantage of it. That’s what I did tonight. I made him fight my fight,” said Pedraza. “On a night like this, I was happy to put it all together.” Pedraza says he’d like to face the winner of the title fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez. But if that isn’t feasible, Pedraza would like to get a little revenge. “I do want to respectfully ask Jose Zepeda for the rematch. I think I can do better,” said Pedraza, who concluded the evening with a reminder to get out and vote.
Efe Ajagba gets decision in Top Rank debut over Jonathan Rice
In the co-main event, heavyweight Efe Ajagba of Texas (14-0, 11 KOs) made his debut under the Top Rank banner with a ten-round decision win over former sparring partner Jonathan Rice of Los Angeles (13-6-1, 9 KOs). Scorecards were 99-91 X 2 and 98-92.
Ajagba, now trained by Kay Koroma, may still be adjusting to his new situation. Rice presented a tough target to hit but he delivered little offense of his own to keep Ajagba at bay. Ajagba landed 131 of 406 total punches (32 percent), triple the number of shots as Rice (39 of 269 punches). After the bout, Koroma reported Ajagba hurt his right hand and it hampered his performance.
Let’s hope this is true. More is expected of big heavyweights like Ajagba. His peers including Tony Yoka and Daniel Dubois will pass him like he’s standing still if he can’t turn it up.
Undercard results from The Bubble
Robiesy Ramirez of Miami (6-1, 3 KOs) got more of a fight from Felix Caraballo of Puerto Rico (13-3, 9 KOs) than he expected. The two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist did what he needed to do and dominated the fight. Scores were 80-72 X 2 and 79-83. It was the first time Robiesy fought eight pro rounds. He landed 51 percent of his power punches and 100 more total than Caraballo, but he couldn’t close the show.
Leo Ruiz of San Bernardino (8-0, 5 KOs) battled a tougher than expected Rodrigo Solia of Cancun (4-5-1) for a six-round unanimous decision win. Scores were 59-53 X 2 and 58-54. Ruiz is trained by Robert Garcia.
Super middleweight Christian Montano of Houston (10-0, 7 KOs) remained unbeaten with a six-round decision over Ryan Adams of St. Louis. (7-3-1, 6 KOs)
Lightweight Bryan Lua of Madera, California (6-0, 3 KOs) scored a second-round knockout over Luis Norambuena of Chile (4-7-1).
Two 17-year-old New York-based welterweights won their pro debuts. Kasir Goldston of Albany (1-0), , won a unanimous decision over Isaiah Varnell (3-3, 2 KOs) of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jahi Turner of Deer Park (1-0, 1 KO) scored a TKO win at 1:56 of the first round over Deandre Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama (1-2).
Lubin outlasts Gausha in lackluster fight
Erickson Lubin of Orlando (22-1, 16 KOs) did just enough against a defensive-minded Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) to prevail in a lackluster fight Saturday in Los Angeles on Showtime. We watched it so you didn’t have to. Scores were 118-110, 116-112, and 115-113 for Lubin.
Lubin, the 2016 Prospect of the Year, couldn’t figure out a way to draw Gausha out, and couldn’t figure out a way to move in on him, either. The Showtime announcing team of Mauro Ranallo, Al Bernstein, and Abner Mares didn’t try to hide their boredom. Boxing Twitter let the snores roar. What happened to Gausha’s pronouncement during fight week, “Whatever we have to do, we’re going to do. We can box or we can bang. We will do whatever we need to do,” said Gausha.
Trainer Barry Cunningham finally told Lubin after the seventh round, “Don’t get bored, bro. Stay alert!” This tells you everything you need to know about the fight. Lubin did increase his work level, but it wasn’t changing the rhythm of the fight or putting Gausha in any danger.
The fight was saved from its doldrums when Gausha wobbled Lubin with an overhand right and realized he had a golden opportunity in front of him. Lubin held and Gausha couldn’t make it stick.
The fight progressed down to a busier last round for Lubin, but only by comparison. Lubin landed 143 of 570 total punches (25 percent); Gausha 107 of 448 (22 percent).
“I give myself a B-minus. I think the layoff has something to do with it. Gausha’s a tough competitor,” said Lubin. “It was a chess match. He respected what I had, and I knew to stay smart. I just knew to be cautious, don’t get hit with nothing stupid. I definitely made a statement. That’s always a statement when you can beat one of the top ’54s,” said Lubin.
Lubin now becomes the mandatory challenger for the winner of next week’s bout between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario, setting up a possible rematch for Lubin with Charlo. But based on his performance, Lubin didn’t do anything to raise his stock in the competitive super welterweight division. It’s hard to see where Gausha goes from here.
Nyambayar battles Breedy to split decision win
Featherweight Tugstogt “King Tug:” Nyambayar of Mongolia (12-1, 9 KOs) got back in the win column after his loss to Gary Russell Jr. but it wasn’t the powerhouse performance he’d hoped for against Cobria Breedy of Barbados. (15-1, 5 KOs). Despite scoring two early knockdowns, Breedy battled back, pushing Nyambayar to the brink of a second loss. After 12 rounds, Nyambayar escaped on the strength of the knockdowns with a split decision. Scores were 114-111 and 114-113 for Nyambayar, and 115-111 for Breedy.
Nyambayar said he waited too much against Russell Jr. He stepped up his work rate initially, scoring a knockdown at the end of the first round with a right hook. “King Tug” came right back in round two, hurting Breedy with a right hook and dropping him seconds later with a left hook. The rattled Breedy beat the count and though Nyambayar pressed the action Breedy recovered well.
Breedy stood tough, showing determination after the two knockdowns with solid outside boxing skills. He fought smart and fought with heart. Being down 20 to 16 after two rounds is a tough climb, but Breedy persevered and showed he wasn’t in front of the cameras just for a check. Nyambayar caught him with several aggressive combinations including the seventh and tenth round. It wasn’t any worse than Breedy had already felt. He made it to the final bell and came within a single point of a draw.
“It’s boxing, it was a tough fight. I knew I was going to win,” said Nyambayar.
Give plenty of credit to Breedy’s trainer Barry Hunter, and to Breedy for never giving up. The former Barbados Olympian took the fight on five weeks’ notice, and he deserves an opportunity to show what he can do with a proper training camp. Nyambayar needs to go back to the gym to see where he can tighten up his game.
Prospect Jaron Ennis proves he’s a rising star with knockout win
Welterweight prospect Jaron “Boots” Ennis of Philadelphia (26-0, 23 KOs) held up his end of the deal, showing he’s a real talent to be watched by stopping veteran Juan Carlos Abreu of the Dominican Republic (23-6-1 (21 KOs) in six rounds.
Ennis was active, accurate, and relentless in pressing forward against the bigger Abreu, who missed weight for the fight and got a smaller check for the pummeling he received from Abreu. Abreu landed vicious jabs and timed his counterpunches to perfection.
The first knockdown came in the fifth round on a counter right uppercut, tossing Abreu backward. He survived and then threatened to come after Ennis after the bell. He had to wait another minute for the sixth round. Ennis intended to finish what he started. He landed another counter right. This time, it didn’t seem Abreu would get up, but he did. Ennis then made it stick at 1:06 of the sixth round. It was the first time Abreu had ever been stopped.
Like many sports, boxing has traveled a rough road since the pandemic shut things down in March. Seeing a rising start like Ennis live up to his promise (at least so far) is the reward fans richly deserve.
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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