A cut around Richard Commey’s left eye rejuvenated Jose Pedraza on Saturday night.
An opportunistic Pedraza rallied after Commey suffered that cut in the sixth round and took control of their 10-round, 140-pound bout. The former two-division champion seemingly out-worked Commey, who faded in the later rounds, but it wasn’t enough to win a main event ESPN televised from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs), who entered the ring as almost a 3-1 favorite, and Ghana’s Commey (30-4-1, 27 KOs) fought to a split draw.
Judge Henry Gueary scored seven rounds for Pedraza, who won 97-93 on his card. Judge David Sutherland scored six rounds for Commey, a 96-94 winner on his card.
Judge Gary Ritter scored the action even, 95-95, which rendered it a split draw.
CompuBox’s unofficial punch stats indicated that their fight was as close as two of the judges had it. CompuBox counted just 16 more connections for Pedraza overall (165-of-496 to 149-of-684).
Pedraza landed more power punches (134-of-291 to 130-of-377) and more jabs (31-of-205 to 19-of-307), according to CompuBox.
“I landed a great body shot,” Pedraza said in reference to a punch that connected in the ninth round. “I felt that I hurt him, and that gave me the inspiration to keep going after him. I actually believe [the ninth and 10th rounds] were the rounds that gave me the victory tonight, despite what the scorecards say.”
Both boxers had hoped to bounce back from unanimous-decision defeats to top opponents in this battle between former lightweight champions.
The 35-year-old Commey moved up to the 140-pound limit for the first time, eight months after suffering a one-sided, 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko on December 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Former WBC/WBO 140-pound champion Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) beat the 33-year-old Pedraza by unanimous decision in his prior bout, a 12-rounder March 4 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Their highly competitive fight appeared to be close entering the last round Saturday night.
Pedraza pressured Commey at times in the 10th round. He nailed Commey with a straight left hand with about 45 seconds remaining in their bout.
Commey came on toward the end of the final round, including a right hand that landed with about 15 seconds left in it.
Pedraza went after Commey’s body in the opening minute of the ninth round. Pedraza blasted Commey with a left hand 1:10 into the ninth round that moved Commey backward.
Commey pawed at the cut around his left eye in the final minute of the ninth round. A right uppercut by Pedraza made Commey back off with just under 40 seconds to go in the ninth round.
Commey’s straight right hand made Pedraza reset his feet just before the halfway point of the eighth round. He landed another right hand about 20 seconds later.
Pedraza’s straight left stopped Commey in his tracks several seconds before the midway mark of the seventh round. Pedraza drilled Commey with a left hand when there were just under 30 seconds to go in the seventh round, but Commey came back with a right hand a few seconds later.
Referee Gerald Ritter called for a brief break in the action with 1:46 remaining in the sixth round, just after an accidental clash of heads caused a cut over Commey’s left eye. Commey’s cut made Pedraza more aggressive and he landed a straight left with just over 50 seconds to go in the sixth round.
Commey drilled Pedraza with a right hand toward the end of the sixth round, though.
Pedraza landed a straight left to the body with just under 1:20 on the clock in the fifth round. Commey clipped Pedraza with a right hand as Pedraza backed away from him with just under 45 seconds to go in the fifth round.
Commey hit Pedraza with two right hands barely 30 seconds into the fifth round, when Pedraza tried to slip his punches while backed against the ropes.
A right hand by Commey backed Pedraza into the ropes with 1:15 to go in the fourth round.
A left-right combination by Commey and then a right hand made Pedraza clinch a little less than a minute into the third round. Commey continued to pressure Pedraza in the third round and landed several hard right hands.
Commey caught Pedraza with two left hooks during a sequence about a minute into the second round. Pedraza switched to a southpaw stance later in the second round, which enabled him to slow Commey’s momentum.
Pedraza landed a right to the body toward the end of what had mostly been an unremarkable first round. Commey connected soon thereafter with two left hands in the final few seconds of the first round, though neither punch seemed to affect Pedraza.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.