By Ben Jacobs
After months of speculation about when the fight would take place, Jose Pedraza (21-0, 12 KOs) and Stephen Smith (23-1, 13 KOs) finally know that they will square off on April 16 in Connecticut, screened on Showtime in the United States for Pedraza’s IBF super featherweight title.
There were even some doubts on both sides as to if the bout would ever take place but those worries have been cast aside allowing both men to prepare for what is an intriguing match-up.
Pedraza spoke to BoxingScene.com via telephone from his home in Cidra, Puerto Rico and explained how he is preparing with the fight date just a month away.
“Frustration is part of life but I kept training hard as I’ve always done. I know if I got myself down with all the frustrations I wouldn’t get out of it. What we have done is train at around 70% intensity until they gave us an exact date, so now we can increase the intensity and maintain it. I’m absolutely convinced now that the fight will take place!
“I was mentally getting ready to fight in England,” the 26-year-old continued.
“If you look at my career and in the amateurs I have fought a lot of times in my opponent’s backyard, it’s not a problem for me but if I did fight there they would have had to offer me a huge sum of money.
“I’ve been watching various tapes of Stephen Smith. I don’t like to study my opponent too much because they can come in with something different on fight night. I’ve seen the positives and negatives of what he has. I can see that he has good qualities but I can find his defects when we are in the ring.
“Smith has shown he has punching power and good stamina. I’m going to do a good job to obtain the win. I’m going to do a complete job, work to the head and body, I’m not just going to focus in one area. I’ll be moving well, showing my speed. If we have to exchange in the middle of the ring, well, I don’t consider myself a big puncher because I box a lot but if I sit down on my punches I can do it, no problem at all.”
Last time out, Pedraza had a hard night making the first defence of his title in October of last year against Bahamian, Edner Cherry. ‘Sniper’ dug out a split decision victory but believes positives can emerge from overcoming such a challenging battle.
“It was a great fight against Edner Cherry, a boxer who has a lot of experience, he’s a veteran. He is excellent, it’s strange to me that he’s not higher up in the rankings. He’s been at 130, 135, 140, he’s fought guys like Timothy Bradley and Paulie Malignaggi.
“I managed to get by him with a bit of difficulty in which I had to change the strategy mid-fight, but that’s a sign of what great champions have to do. Sometimes you have to change things during the fight. There were moments when Cherry took control and I didn’t panic. It could help me down the line. It’s the type of fight one can learn from and improve on mistakes. That’s what happens when you fight quality fighters.”