By Lem Satterfield
Jose Pedraza’s first loss was by vicious seventh-round stoppage at 130 pounds to southpaw Gervonta Davis in January 2017, and his second, at 135 pounds by unanimous decision to left-hander Vasyl Lomachenko on Saturday night.
So which of the two is the best fighter overall?
“Lomachenko,” said Pedraza, during a post-fight interview recorded by FightHype.com. “Definitely.”
A 29-year-old Puerto Rican Olympian and two-division champion, Pedraza (25-2, 12 KOs) was floored twice in the 11th round by Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs), a 30-year-old three-division champion and two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist who added “The Sniper’s” WBO crown to his WBA version.
Pedraza had won three straight 135-pound bouts since rising in weight after being dethroned as IBF champion by Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyon, New York.
Davis finished off the switch-hitting Pedraza with a brutal right hook to the jaw that had followed three equally powerful head-swiveling lefts, his eighth consecutive stoppage claiming a world title in his first try and, at age 22, making him boxing’s youngest reigning champion.
“Tank” Davis also became the second youngest champion from his hometown of Baltimore and the first Baltimore boxer to hold a title in any division since Hasim Rahman upset Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight crown in April 2001.
“Lomachenko is a fighter that breaks down his opponents little by little,” said Pedraza. “I believe that Davis is a fighter who knocks out his opponents with just one punch.”
Lomachenko earned a vacant 126-pound title by majority decision over previously unbeaten southpaw Gary Russell in June 2014, a 130-pound crown via fifth-round KO to dethrone Roman Martinez in June 2016, his 135-pound title by 10th-round stoppage of Jose Linares in May, rising from a sixth-round stoppage to do so.
Pedraza ended Lomachenko's run of eight straight knockouts, including those in the sixth and seventh rounds over former titleholders Guillermo Rigondeaux (December 2017) and Nicholas Walters (November 2016).
For his initial IBF title defense in May 2017, Davis traveled to London, where he dropped and stopped previously undefeated southpaw Liam Walsh (21-1, 14 KOs) in the third round in front of Walsh’s hometown fans.
But Davis lost his crown on the scales before his second defense in August 2017, an eighth-round knockout victory over Francisco Fonseca (22-1-1, 16 KOs) on the under card of Floyd Mayweather’s 10th-round TKO of Conor McGregor.
The now 24-year-old Davis became a two-time champion with April’s WBA "super" super featherweight title-earning two-knockdown third-round TKO of fellow southpaw Jesus Cuellar (28-3, 21 KOs), of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In victory over Cuellar, Davis returned to Barclays Center where he defeated Pedraza.
Davis will reportedly pursue his 12th straight knockout and first defense on February 9 in Southern California against three-division champion Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs), who will make his 130-pound debut.
Mares had previously beaten Cuellar in December 2016 by split-decision for a WBA 126-pound title.