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Staff picks and predictions: Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre

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Jose Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre will finally square off on Thursday night (knock on wood).

Remember this fight? It’s back! In pog form.

Originally scheduled for June 18, Pedraza-LesPierre was postponed due to LesPierre’s manager testing positive for COVID-19, but the turnaround has been pretty quick.

So if you forgot what we said the first time we picked this fight, none of us have changed our minds!

Scott Christ

This one I didn’t even bother doing a normal preview for! I’ll bring those back next week for the Moloney bouts, I expect, but honestly, being honest, if I can be honest — nobody’s watching or reading about any of this stuff, really, and it didn’t seem worth the extra effort when I had an annoyingly busy afternoon on Tuesday before those fights.

Anyway, Pedraza’s won world titles at 130 and 135, which is a lot more impressive before you pick the record apart and see his best wins have come over Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry (debatable), and Ray Beltran. Fine wins, mind you, and he’s a good fighter, but not where your mind goes at “two-weight world champion.” And I really think the Puerto Rican veteran is pushing things fighting at 140; he looked sluggish against Jose Zepeda last September, and though Zepeda is a good fighter, it just wasn’t a promising showing at a new weight for “The Sniper.”

I do think he’ll win here, because LesPierre can’t even boast of coming near the surface-level bona fides of Pedraza. The 35-year-old LesPierre has had exactly one genuinely notable fight in his career, which came 15 months ago against Maurice Hooker. Hooker was empty on the scales and barely was able to make weight, but he routed LesPierre all the same. There’s a reason LesPierre, the former world title challenger, checks in at No. 155 in the world at 140 pounds on BoxRec. Him getting a bizarre title shot is no reason to think he’s particularly any good at all. I think his only hope is Pedraza being rusty as hell. Pedraza UD-10

Wil Esco

Jose Pedraza might be 31 years old, but one has to wonder if he’s not already on the downside of his career. He’s coming off a clear loss to Jose Zepeda last time out, and at that time was only one get-well fight removed from getting dominated on points by Vasiily Lomachenko. But still, Pedraza is a capable technician, one that should still be good enough to deal with someone like Mikkel LesPierre who is 35 years old and never really cut it at the world title level. It’s hard to tell what form fighters will come in following this recent quarantine period, but assuming Pedraza kept himself sharp, I’ll take the best version of him over the best version of LesPierre. Pedraza UD-10

Patrick L. Stumberg

LesPierre had something of a golden opportunity against Maurice Hooker, who’d barely managed to make the super lightweight limit. If he’d pressured the taller, rangier champion, forced him to dig deep into his semi-filled gas tank, he might have had a chance. Instead, he...just kinda didn’t. He let Hooker tee off on him with relative impunity, never really knuckling down or trying to press the action even when a decision win became impossible.

Pedraza obviously lacks the frankly unfair physical dimensions that Hooker brings to the table, but he’s still damn sharp from the outside, and LesPierre’s lack of urgency to close the distance against Hooker suggests that “The Sniper” will get the outfight he wants. Pedraza’s jabs and straights carry him to a comfortable win. Pedraza UD-10

Lewis Watson

Despite dropping losses in two of his last three, Pedraza still looks confident that he has plenty to offer up at 140 pounds. A weight migration north of current super-lightweight champions could see a few belts vacated over the next 12 months, with “Sniper” well-versed in grabbing trinkets throughout his amateur and pro career. LesPierre looked completely out of his depth against Mo Hooker last year, and despite operating as a portsider he probably won’t cause the Puerto Rican many problems at the age of 35. Pedraza UD-10

And the staff winner is...

Masayuki Ito v Jamel Herring Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Jose Pedraza (4-0)!