By Marc Livitz
Jose “Sniper” Pedraza traded shots with Raymundo Beltran en route to a unanimous decision victory for the WBO lightweight title at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The majority of the contest, especially the first eight to nine rounds were very evenly matched. Each fighter had his moments, yet the opening three periods belonged to Pedraza (25-1, 12 KO’s). The Puerto Rican challenger looked to win his third successive fight in 2018 since being knocked out by Gervonta Davis in early 2017.
Beltran’s head may as well have been on a stick, as he simply refused to move it with any regularity. Such habits allowed southpaw Jose to fire away up high though three rounds or so until he was caught flush by Ray’s powerful right hand in the fourth.
The native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa began to target the body from the fifth onward, which delighted the crowd in his adopted hometown of the Phoenix area. He continued to bang away at the body of his Caguas, Puerto Rico opponent. The pattern remained in place as one went high, while the other fired low. 37 year old Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KO’s) connected with a hard right to begin the ninth and two rounds later, Pedraza scored the first knockdown of the night. About one minute into the period, Ray walked right into a left uppercut which put him on the canvas. It would remain to be seen as to whether or not this would swing the cards in his favor in what was thus far a very entertaining, back and forth affair.
Both men were looking to it it all on the line in the twelfth and final round. Jose continued to look for chances to land his left uppercut, yet he held his absolute best for the last ten seconds. He pushed Beltran into a corner and fired away, unanswered. They embraced in a friendly hug once the bell sounded and the wait was on in terms of who the judges would see as the winner.
Rocky Taylor scored the contest 115-112. Lisa Giampa saw it 117-110, as did Robert Hoyle to award the unanimous decision win to Jose Pedraza for the WBO lightweight title. The victorious Pedraza indicated that he was ready to take on the lightweight division’s best, be it Vasyl Lomachenko in December or Mikey Garcia at any time.
Additional Results from Glendale
Isaac Dogboe KO 1 Hidenori Otake - WBO World Super Bantamweight Title
Francisco De Vaca UD 8 Jesus Serrano - Featherweight
Mikaela Mayer KO 3 Edina Kiss - Lightweight
Breenan Macias TKO 2 Philip Adyaka - Bantamweight
Carlos Castro UD 8 Diuhl Olguin - Super Bantamweight