By Bill Tibbs
Vasiliy Lomachenko will make the 1st defence of his WBA “super” world lightweight title on December 8, when he faces Jose Pedarza at the Hulu Theatre in New York.
The card will also feature a title defence by fast-rising African star, and WBO junior featherweight champion, Isaac Dogboe, as well as boxing’s hottest lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez opening the show….and according to him, stealing it.
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza, 12 rounds, WBA/WBO lightweight unification
“Hi-Tech” Lomachenko has fought for a belt in every professional fight he has ever had and has been hoovering up world titles since his 3rd fight in 2014. He will look to add the WBO lightweight title to his growing collection of belts in his first fight since recovering from shoulder surgery.
Pedraza has a tough assignment in front of him in Lomachenko, considered by some as the best fighter in boxing, but may have a style that proves difficult for the favoured Lomachenko. Pedraza will have a slight height advantage that he can use in trying to keep Lomachenko at the end of his jab. Pedraza showed great patience in collecting the title from rugged Ray Beltran last August in Arizona, biding his time until Beltran started to show some slight fatigue later in the fight. Don’t look for the supremely conditioned Lomachenko to fade down the stretch as he seems to get stronger as the fight progresses. If Pedraza can box from the outside he may be able to give “Hi-Tech” some difficulty but if Lomachenko gets inside he’ll do damage. Prediction:
Lomachenko by UD win.
Isaac Dogboe vs. Emanuel Navarrete, 12 rounds, for Dogboe’s WBO junior featherweight title.
It’s very hard not to root for Africa’s always-smiling, fan-friendly Dogboe who looks to excite the crowd every time he gets into the ring. If he can repeat the script from his last fight, a first round blasting of Japanese challenger Hidenori Otaki in August in Phoenix, he will certainly finish a strong year on a great note. Handled by expert, knowledgeable boxing man, Australian Mike Altamura, “The Royal Storm” continues to expand his brand in America.
If he keeps lighting up audiences in the ring, matched with his gregarious, friendly personality out of the ring, this could be a star in the making. Navarette, has put together 19 straight wins since losing a UD in his 6th fight as pro (over 6-years ago) but he is taking a huge step up in class here.
Prediction: Dogboe by stoppage win.
Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. Mason Menard, 10 rounds, lightweights
Teofimo Lopez says it is “the takeover” every time he steps into the ring as he continues to sound his own trumpet announcing his rapid assent to a world title and mainstream stardom in the sport. And, if you have seen him fight it is hard to argue with him; this is a talented fighter. In a recent interview he promised to be a world champion in 2019 and regularly calls out the biggest names in and around lightweight. He also recently stated that if he can’t lure the very biggest names into the ring at 135 (see: Vasyliy Lomachenko) he says he’ll move north to 140 pounds. He has been off for a few months with a hand injury but will still squeeze in 4 bouts this year. In a recent interview his father and trainer Teofimo Sr. said, “there isn’t a fighter out there in his weight class, or even close to his weight class that can touch him” and his son will be looking to back up Dad’s claims. Menard has 27 more fights than Lopez, but experience is the only advantage he brings to the ring. However, Menard is tough so he’ll be game while it lasts. Brooklyn-born Lopez should have some family and friends in the house. Prediction: Lopez by stoppage…followed by a great victory dance