By Ben Jacobs
Due to the delays in securing a date and place for the IBF super featherweight clash between Jose Pedraza (21-0, 12 KOs) and Stephen Smith (23-1, 13 KOs), there was speculation in the UK among some fans as to whether the Puerto Rican wanted to go ahead with the fight. Speaking to BoxingScene.com recently, Cidra-based Pedraza laughed at suggestions that he was evading the Liverpool man.
“I wanted this fight, the same way as people over there thought that about me, my fans here thought the same about him, that he didn’t want this fight or to fight away from home. But some fans think like that and don’t understand about the business side of boxing. I’m a boxer that likes to have things clear and just. If I fought in the UK they would have had to pay me a large sum of money, and I would have had no problem going there. The United States is neutral territory for both of us. While Puerto Rico is US territory, it is not a state.
“Stephen Smith is a boxer of good quality, a convincing win should get the attention of people, and this will of course be my second defence of the title.”
Pedraza, despite being a world champion has been overshadowed by fellow Boricua Felix Verdejo, at least in the eyes of the boxing press and many fans.
“Verdejo has good promotion behind him, they put him in front of the public more, they do a good job, opined ‘Sniper’.
“In my case the promoters aren’t doing much so that the fans and the press recognise me. But in the case of the press, they realise the quality of a lot of boxers. In my case, I am the champion, they don’t give me the publicity that I deserve but the press know that I won my position and title on my own merit.”
Last time out in February, many were expecting Verdejo to stop Brazil’s William Silva, and although he went on to win a unanimous decision victory, the 22-year-old lightweight was criticised in some quarters.
“Verdejo didn’t shine anything like people expected him to in his last fight,” Pedraza said.
“The thing is that it was his opponent that made him look bad. In my opinion, Silva is a class B level fighter, but he had studied Verdejo well and he did a good defensive job making Verdejo’s hard punches miss. But at the same time Silva didn’t counter punch him when he made him miss. But some fans said, ‘Oh, but Silva is really good, top quality’”.
Pedraza-Smith will finally go ahead on April 16 at Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut.