By Jake Donovan
Jose Pedraza knew by the time he stepped into the ring for his Jan. 2017 title defense versus Gervonta Davis that he’d overstayed his welcome in the 130-pound division.
The former two-division titlist doesn’t plan to allow for history to repeat itself.
Now back in the win column following a 9th round stoppage of Mexico’s Antonio Lozada on May 25, Pedraza (26-2, 13KOs) is already thinking ahead to where he will land for his next fight. With a pretty clear map of how the lightweight title picture will play out in the coming months, the switch-hitter from Puerto Rico is eyeing a third divisional title.
“We have a plan to move up in weight to 140,” Pedraza told BoxingScene.com after his latest win in Kissimmee, Fla.. “If there is an opportunity to fight for another title at 135, I will stay. Otherwise, we will look to become a three-division world champion.”
Pedraza’s win over Lozano marked his first fight back since losing his lightweight title to Vasiliy Lomachenko last December in New York City. The 12-round decision defeat ended his reign just four months after lifting the title from Raymundo Beltran last August in becoming a two-division titlist.
The 30-year old boxer—whom represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Beijing Olympics—previously enjoyed a lengthier super featherweight title reign. A June 2015 decision win over Andrey Klimov netted Pedraza a 130-pound belt which he defended twice before running into Davis, suffering his first career loss via one-sided 7th round stoppage.
He’s since won four of his last five starts, all coming at lightweight which he can still comfortably make. The question is, whether it’s worth continuing to shrink into a 135-pound uniform or if it’s time to test the super lightweight waters.
Lomachenko is on the verge of fighting for his third title at the weight, while the lone other titlist—Richard Commey—is committed to a June 28 title defense versus Beltran, with the winner being groomed for a title defense versus unbeaten rising contender Teofimo Lopez. All of the aforementioned boxers are promoted by Top Rank, whose plans call for an undisputed lightweight championship bout in the first quarter of 2020.
Simply put, it’s a tough market to crack especially for a contender who can use greater motivation to keep campaigning in this weight division.
“Looking back, we stayed at 130 much longer than we should have and I don’t want to overstay my welcome at 135,” insists Pedraza. “I’m having to work harder to make 135. I know I’ll have to move up eventually, and would like to pursue a world title (at 140 pounds) once I arrive.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox