Jose “Sniper” Pedraza completely dominated an overmatched Mikkel LesPierre tonight on ESPN from Las Vegas, to the point that it’s hard to figure how two of the three judges even saw a round for the underdog.
Pedraza, a former titleholder at 130 and 135, won the catchweight (technically welterweight) main event on scores of 99-89, 99-89, and 100-88. Both of Bad Left Hook’s cards were 100-88 for Pedraza.
Pedraza (27-3, 13 KO) made his intention clear pretty early here, starting in the second round with an insanely long, unanswered flurry of punches. The 31-year-old didn’t land on all his punches thrown, obviously, but some did get through, and LesPierre (22-2-1, 10 KO) could do nothing but cover up.
LesPierre did appear to score a flash knockdown in the fifth round, but replay proved it was really a trip when the feet got tangled up. And Pedraza came back that same around to drop LesPierre, anyway, which he did again in the 10th round.
LesPierre, 35, had only had one notable fight, and that was a shutout-type loss to Maurice Hooker in 2019. He fared no better here against Pedraza. There is an enormous gap in quality between the guys LesPierre has gone 22-0-1 against compared to the fighters he’s lost to in the last 16 months. It’s now been made clear he’s simply not good enough for this level.
“I was physically fit, I was mentally fit, I was spiritually fit. No matter what happened, I put it all together tonight, because I couldn’t afford not to,” Pedraza said. “That’s the type of performance you get from me when I’m 100 percent focused.”
Pedraza, who lost his 140-pound debut last year against Jose Zepeda, is still hoping to go for a belt in a third weight class.
“I’ll take on any of the champions. There’s only two in the weight class, they’re both quality fighters. I just hope they accept my challenge. I’m the challenger now. I’m a former world champion, but I’m the challenger. I just hope they give me the opportunity.”
As for those titleholders, they are Josh Taylor (WBA/IBF) and Jose Ramirez (WBC/WBO). Both are Top Rank fighters, and both have mandatory challengers due, plus Top Rank really wants to put them together for an undisputed title fight when possible. So Pedraza may have to wait, although there is the WBA “world” title, a secondary belt held by PBC’s Mario Barrios. Barrios still has some greenness to his game, and that could in theory be an interesting and valuable matchup for the young sorta-titlist from San Antonio.
Albert Bell UD-10 Mark Bernaldez
Toledo’s Bell (17-0, 5 KO) won this one on shutout scores of 100-90 across the board, which is also what BLH had. Excruciatingly boring fight from an entertainment standpoint, but Bell won’t care about that, nor should he be expected to; he went out, fought like he fights, and won clear. Only a right hand injury will be a disappointment for him, really.
Bell, 27, is a potential problem at 130 pounds, or even 135. He’s six feet tall, he’s got a 73-inch reach, he moves really well — if he gets his jab going better than we’ve seen from him, especially what we saw tonight, he could be a pain in the hindquarters for a lot of good fighters.
Bernaldez (20-4, 14 KO) is an OK-ish sort of fighter but he had nothing that was any trouble for Bell, and could never get a single thing going. Bell hasn’t beaten top opponents just yet, but he’s put himself on the map over the last 12 months.
Robeisy Ramirez UD-6 Adan Gonzales
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ramirez shockingly lost his pro debut against Gonzales last August, but gets some revenge here, sweeping the cards over six rounds, a trio of 60-54 scores. In their first meeting, Ramirez (4-1, 3 KO) came out a bit cocky, probably got ahead of himself, got caught and dropped in the first round, and never quite fully got into the swing of things in a four-rounder. He deserved the L that he took, as Gonzales just out-fought him.
Here, Ramirez was pretty much totally in control, aggressive and throwing largely power punches, not working off a jab much at all. Gonzales (5-3-2, 2 KO) was game and came to fight again, but he was outclassed a bit here, and part of it is he seemed to feel Robeisy’s power a bit more and wasn’t as eager to engage this time. It was a better performance by Ramirez, who had also fought three times since last August, while this was Gonzales’ first bout since then.
Ramirez definitely won this fight and showed more of his skills, but if I’m Top Rank, having taken two looks at the 23-year-old Gonzales, I really might consider offering this kid a contract. Obviously nothing huge, but this is a game fighter, better than his record makes him seem, a little tighter fundamentally than you usually expect with someone with that record. This might be a kid you can develop into something if he were to have some backing from a promotional company. Low risk, potentially solid reward giving him a chance, I think.
Kingsley Ibeh MD-6 Patrick Mailata
A matchup of big old heavyweights who came to boxing late after careers in other sports didn’t take off. Ibeh, who just fought a week ago on a Top Rank show, bordered on a shot at pro football, while Mailata, a native of Samoa billed from New Zealand and living in Vegas, had a rugby career ended by a knee injury.
Nigerian-American Ibeh (5-1, 4 KO) got the win here, and bless his effort, but his performance was some evidence of why fighters probably oughtn’t fight twice in seven days. He was gassed out pretty bad by round two, and had trouble even holding himself up if there was a break in the action late in the fight, but man, when the clock was running, he was letting his hands go, arm punches or not. And Mailata (4-1, 2 KO) just didn’t take advantage of a physically depleted opponent; to Ibeh’s credit, his activity level kept Mailata from really getting in there, but frankly Mailata just looked like he didn’t know what to do with punches coming at him that frequently.
Ibeh really should take at least a month off. He’s been fun to watch, I’d be happy to see him again, but I just think it would be better if the next time we saw him, he wasn’t running the risk of something bad happening simply because he’s exhausted and overworked.
Elvis Rodriguez TKO-1 Danny Murray
Rodriguez, 24, is a Dominican junior welterweight prospect working with Freddie Roach and Marvin Somodio, and he got some quick work in here, and he snapped Murray’s head back violently with a quick little jab from the southpaw stance. Murray was coming in to throw, got countered with that shot, and went down in bad pain, rolling through the bottom two ropes out to the ring apron, where he was clearly not getting up. It was a TKO because referee Robert Hoyle rightly stopped counting well before reaching 10.
The 28-year-old Murray (5-4, 0 KO) told Hoyle and the physician he felt like he’d broken something, and early speculation would be the orbital, and you hate to see that any time. Rodriguez (7-0-1, 7 KO) could conceivably get back very quickly off a fight like this where he wasn’t in the ring long and took no punishment.
Enrique Vivas UD-10 Carlos Jackson
This fight didn’t air on TV for whatever reason, though it probably should have. Jackson (16-1, 11 KO) takes the first loss of his career, but he wasn’t some touted prospect, he’s a 31-year-old guy from Atlanta who hadn’t really fought anyone. Vivas (19-1, 10 KO) had been on ShoBox before, at least, losing to Ruben Villa, who is emerging as a real contender at 126. Vivas took this one on scores of 97-93 across the board.