Veteran ex-titleholder Jose Pedraza is still going strong, as the Puerto Rican stopped Julian Rodriguez after eight rounds on tonight’s ESPN show from Las Vegas, moving forward with his career in the 140 lb division.
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Pedraza (29-3, 14 KO) led 78-74 on our unofficial scorecard after eighth, when Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KO) told his corner he couldn’t see with his eyes too badly swollen, leading to the corner stoppage.
Pedraza, 32 and a former titlist at 130 and 135, has rebounded extremely well from his 2019 loss to Jose Zepeda, which was his first fight at 140. There were questions then about whether Pedraza was just in over his head and fighting too heavy, but with three straight wins now, Pedraza has pretty clearly shown he can definitely fight in this division, and he just lost to a good opponent that night.
For the 26-year-old Rodriguez, this was a huge step up. He missed weight on Friday and blew off the weight check on Saturday, and while he had moments here and there, Pedraza was largely in control of the fight, keeping the tempo where he wanted it, as well as the distance. His jab — both orthodox and out of the southpaw stance he switched to over the latter portion of the fight — was able to keep him where he wanted, and keep Rodriguez where he wanted him, too, which is at least as important.
Rodriguez’s eyes were swelling from early in the fight, and while his corner did a good job keeping it in check, the veteran knew what to target, and did so. Pedraza really never over-extended himself in this fight, looking really comfortable in the last couple of rounds especially, as if he knew he had this one in the bag, there to be won. And it was.
It’s a big setback for Rodriguez and the last couple days probably didn’t endear him to his promoter much, either. He now has to figure out if he wants to buckle down at 140 or move up to 147. For Pedraza, he just stays right in the mix at 140. There are good fights to make, and if/when Josh Taylor vacates all four of his belts later this year, he could find himself in a title fight.