By Keith Idec
Jose Pedraza predicted his height and reach advantages will help him knock off Vasiliy Lomachenko on Saturday night.
The WBO lightweight champion didn’t appear much significantly taller than Lomachenko when they stood face-to-face following Friday’s weigh-in at Madison Square Garden in New York. Pedraza and Lomachenko also stepped on the New York State Athletic Commission’s scale at almost exactly the same weight for their 135-pound title unification fight.
The 30-year-old Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), of Odessa, Ukraine, officially weighed 134.4 pounds for the first defense of the WBA world lightweight title he won by knocking out Jorge Linares (45-4, 28 KOs) in the 10th round May 12 at Madison Square Garden. The 29-year-old Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), of Cidra, Puerto Rico, weighed 134.2 pounds for the first defense of the WBO lightweight championship he won from Ray Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KOs) on August 25 in Glendale, Arizona.
Lomachenko, a three-division champion, will fight for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder six months ago.
Pedraza, a former IBF junior lightweight champ, earned his shot at one of the sport’s best boxers by dropping Beltran in the 11th round and winning a unanimous decision in their 12-rounder 3½ months ago.
ESPN will televise Lomachenko-Pedraza as the main event of a tripleheader from The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The telecast also will include fights featuring super bantamweight champ Isaac Dogboe and elite lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez.
Before Lomachenko and Pedraza weighed in Friday, Dogboe, 24, and challenger Emanuel Navarrete, 23, made weight for their WBO super bantamweight championship match.
Ghana’s Dogboe (20-0, 14 KOs), who’ll make the second defense of the title he won by knocking out Jessie Magdaleno on April 28, officially weighed 120½ pounds. Mexico’s Navarrete (25-1, 22 KOs) stepped on the NYSAC’s scale exactly at the division limit of 122 pounds.
Earlier Friday, the Brooklyn-born Lopez (10-0, 8 KOs) weighed in precisely at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, as did his opponent, Mason Menard.
The 21-year-old Lopez, a Las Vegas resident, will test his surgically repaired right hand for the first time when he meets Menard (34-3, 24 KOs), a 30-year-old veteran from Rayne, Louisiana, in a scheduled 10-rounder. The Lopez-Menard match will open ESPN’s telecast at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.