Jose Ramirez realizes why Jose Pedraza presents so many problems for his opponents.
The versatile Pedraza has a high boxing IQ, comfortably boxes from southpaw and orthodox stances, usually defends himself well and is deceptively strong. Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs) clearly could’ve chosen a less problematic opponent for his first fight since Josh Taylor dropped him twice and beat him by majority decision, but the former WBC/WBO 140-pound champion is confident that he’ll overpower Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs) in their 12-round fight Friday night at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
“He’s a fighter that could box very well,” Ramirez stated during a virtual press conference recently. “And he switches stances, you know, he’s a fighter that switches stances from southpaw to an orthodox. And, you know, so he’s gonna try to be tricky. But, you know, I think once we’re in the ring, I’m gonna see how I can overwhelm him with my speed, again my power, my size and hopefully, you know, I could put him [on] the ropes. And when you put a fighter on the ropes, it’s hard for him to do all that.”
Puerto Rico’s Pedraza stopped previously unbeaten Julian Rodriguez in his last fight. The former IBF junior lightweight and ex-WBO lightweight champ stopped Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, after the eighth round of a scheduled 10-rounder June 12 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Pedraza has won three straight fights since skillful, strong southpaw Jose Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs, 2 NC) beat him by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder in September 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Ramirez believes beating Pedraza will move him into position either for a rematch with Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs), boxing’s fully unified junior welterweight champion, or a shot at a vacant 140-pound title if Taylor decides to move up to the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.
“Pedraza is, you know, he’s one of the best 140-pounders,” said Ramirez, who lost to Taylor by the same score, 114-112, on all three cards. “So, it just keeps me on this level. You know, it just reminds me that I belong at this level of boxing at 140 pounds. And, you know, I’m only 29 years old, so I feel like, you know, there’s so much I could still learn from the sport, there’s so much I would like to do in the sport of boxing and, to be honest, I think the best is yet to come. And, you know, there’s always fighters that, you know, after a defeat, they learn so much, they become a whole different fighter.
“And I hope to become one of those fighters that you guys could see that is still very hungry and very motivated to learn and has learned from his mistakes. And I plan to show all that and move on to better things. You know, and I either chase for that rematch [with Taylor], fight for a world title after this fight or move to the 147-pound division, because I been in the 140 division all my career and, you know, I think there’s a point that I feel sometimes that if I let my body develop, I might be a stronger, better fighter.”
ESPN+ will stream Ramirez-Pedraza as the main event of a nine-fight card from the campus of Fresno State University, near Ramirez’s hometown of Avenal, California. The first fight on the Ramirez-Pedraza undercard is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. PT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.