By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Antonio Moran made Jose Pedraza work extremely hard Saturday night to beat him.
Pedraza withstood the bigger, aggressive Moran’s best shots, landed plenty of power punches of his own and won a unanimous decision in their 10-round lightweight bout. Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (24-1, 12 KOs) won by the same score, 96-94, on all three scorecards in a bloody, brutal battle on the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn undercard at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Mexico’s Moran (23-3, 16 KOs) fought most of the bout will blood flowing from a cut across the bridge of his nose.
Pedraza, 29, fought for just the second time since Gervonta Davis stopped him in the seventh round and took the IBF super featherweight title from him in January 2017 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Moran and Pedraza traded power punches throughout the 10th round, but neither fighter could hurt his opponent enough to score a knockdown.
Pedraza knocked Moran off balance with a left hand in the ninth round, but Moran came back to land right hands that prevented Pedraza from capitalizing. Moran and Pedraza pounded each other with hard punches near Moran’s corner toward the end of the eighth round.
Pedraza spent much of the first half of the seventh round in a southpaw stance. Moran eventually landed a hard right hand that backed Pedraza into the ropes.
Moran continued to bleed badly from the cut along the bridge of his nose in the seventh.
Moran was the aggressor during the fifth and sixth rounds, when Pedraza tried to box more carefully than he did in the first four rounds.
Moran drilled Pedraza with a solid left hook early in the fourth round and followed it up with three flush right hands. Pedraza had some success later in the fourth when he fought out of a southpaw stance.
Moran backed Pedraza into the ropes and unloaded a combination on him a minute into the third round. Pedraza landed a right hand to move Moran away from him.
Moran began bleeding from a cut on the bridge of his nose about a minute into the second round.
Pedraza attacked him once he saw blood and landed a left uppercut. Moran fired back with about 10 unanswered punches that kept Pedraza from hurting him.
Moran and Pedraza each had moments of success during the first round – Moran with his left hook and Pedraza with his straight right hand. Pedraza and Moran engaged in a quick exchange about a minute and 40 seconds into their fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.