Lomachenko vs Pedraza Preview
By Ben Blackwell
One of the modern day’s boxing favourites, Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1), makes his long-awaited return this upcoming Saturday at the Hulu theatre at the legendary Madison Square Garden.
The-three weight world champion returns after shoulder surgery following the spectacle with the now former WBA & Ring magazine world lightweight title holder Jorge Linares in May in the “big room” at the Garden. Victory in the tenth round against Linares of which Loma had to rise from the canvas himself before he claimed his victory, took Vasyl to a new level of which he should have been deserving in terms of a level of respect from many within the industry.
The now WBA and Ring magazine lightweight title-holder with a victory over Linares got “the” name he had needed against a genuine lightweight against a natural opponent of genuine world-class ability. Door’s have now opened which will hopefully make Vasyl’s goal come true and that is securing all the belts at 135lbs starting on Saturday.
Standing in the opposite corner will be the freshly crowned WBO world lightweight title holder and former IBF world super-featherweight champion Jose Pedraza (25-1). Jose has in a lot of ways come back into prominence from the wilderness since linking up with Bob Arum and the Top Rank at the turn of the year. A frustrating fourteen months following his defeat to Gervonta Davis in January of 2017, which saw injury issues and fixes as well as promotional issues with then advisor Al Haymon saw the talented Puerto Rican resting on the shelf. The olive branch offered by Arum has since seen Pedraza get back to his best. A new weight, new team and new Jose sprung to mind and task which has seen three straight victories in 2018.
Jose Luis Rodriguez, Antonio Moran and in August world title glory with an inspired and exceptional performance to rip the WBO crown away from Ray Beltran in dominating fashion. The speed, the timing and accuracy of which we had become accustomed to with Jose was now added with spite and aggression and threw his hat into the ring once again as a more than a viable adversary for Vasyl. Not just because of the natural size of Pedraza making him formidable but technically speaking is pretty damn good himself. A tricky orthodox who can switch hit seamlessly, elusive himself and well established previously at super-featherweight who has a big point to prove himself.
A contest between Vasyl and Pedraza had been mooted for a long time previously having operated at super-featherweight together at the same time as they both reigned supreme within their respective ranking governing bodies. Realistically the contest wouldn’t have happened at that moment in time (2015-2017) due to Al Haymon’s grip of U.S boxing and wanting to monopolise the sport with his staunch refusal to work alongside rival U.S promotional entities with his PBC promotional umbrella. From a personal point, those barriers have at least thawed out and hopefully continue to do so in the U.S.
The contest itself will offer a differing variety to comparison to Vasyl’s outing with Linares. Pedraza although in recent fights has been a lot more adventurous, will be seeking himself to set traps and punish any mistakes which Lomachenko makes. Vasyl will not have a fighter who will stand in front of him and swing from the hip or seeks to “be first” like Linares. It will be chess match encounter I feel with each fighter looking to play the percentages game till gaps appear which one can exploit.
The bodywork will be key to both fighters if they are to secure a solid and possible permanent foothold in the contest. Both Vasyl and Jose are very nimble on their feet and elusive, however, Pedraza has been guilty of attempting to get into dogfights previously with the Gervonta Davis fight a prime example in January of 2017. Davis took his legs away with prolonged bodywork, Pedraza attempted to fight fire with fire and paid the price suffering a dramatic knockout defeat. Vasyl has a much more composed mindset and with his father, Anatoly who trains him will already have plan B, C and D already prepared and ready to utilise.
Already Vasyl sounds like he is not impressed with what he is about to face on Saturday night, claiming that Jose’s style is negative and that if he Jose wants to beat him, he needs to come to fight.
“I don’t like [Pedraza’s] style because he’s very defensive and every time he waits for your mistake,” Lomacenko said. “If you come in the ring with me and you want to win, you have to fight me.”
“I like pressure fighters. If he fights like he did against Beltran or like he did against Davis, he dosesn’t stand a chance” (Via LA Times)
Lomachenko may get his wish with Pedraza speaking at yesterday’s media day at Gleason’s Gym, New York with only one aim on his mind.
“I’m bigger than him and I have the skills to beat him. I can see myself winning by knockout and giving the people of Puerto Rico a great moment.” (via Chris Glover/BoxingScene)
If Pedraza comes out with his intentions of knocking out Lomachenko, I feel he will come unstuck very quickly and picked and taken apart. Lomachenko does the exact same as Pedraza and more but much better. Although if it becomes a technical encounter Lomachenko
One question mark does hand over the head of Lomachenko and it is a pretty big one too. How well is that right shoulder of which was operated on shortly after the Linares encounter? Vasyl has already conceded that he and his father have altered the way he now trains to relieve the stress of another rotator cuff injury. Exercises have been altered or completely removed to tailor around preventions of future injuries to the right shoulder. The injury marked the first serious injury sustained as a professional to Vasyl outside of a broken hand sustained in a bout in Macau against Suriya Tatakhun.
Many will expect Vasyl to claim victory over Pedraza as do I but you cannot write off a rejuvenated and now fully happy fighter in Pedraza who seeks to take the opportunity with both hands.
The chief support see’s Isaac Dogboe (20-0) make the second defence of his WBO world super-bantamweight crown against Mexican Emanuel Navarrete (25-1). The popular British/Ghanaian Dogboe claimed the title in Dramatic and impressive fashion earlier this year with a clinical and impressive stoppage of Jessie Magdaleno in April in eleven rounds, which also secured him a promotional deal with Top Rank and not just the WBO crown.
Dogboe faces Navarrete, a 23-year old Mexican who fights for the first time outside of Mexico but is taking a huge step up after fighting no one in the same league as Dogboe.
The unknown Mexican will be the much larger an however, standing five inches taller than Dogboe at 5ft 7 in comparison to the 5ft 2 frame of Dogboe. Dogboe is extremely effective at fighting much taller men than himself and getting onto the inside so Navarrette, if he is to have any success, will need to use his larger range and feet to negate the threat of Dogboe of doing exactly that. Personally, Dogboe should be two if not three levels above Navarrette and handle the matter accordingly.
Featuring also on the card will be the talented Teofimo Lopez (10-0) face Mason Menard (34-3) for the NABF lightweight title over ten rounds whilst welterweight Brian Ceballo (5-0) faces Daniel Calzada over six rounds.
The card will be broadcast live on Boxnation in the UK and on ESPN in the United States.