Jose Ramirez and Jose Pedraza return to action Friday night on ESPN+, with Ramirez looking to bounce back from last year’s loss to Josh Taylor, and Pedraza looking to truly and firmly establish himself as a top-tier 140 lb contender.
Will Ramirez (26-1, 17 KO) get back on the winning side, or can Pedraza (29-3, 14 KO) be the one who puts himself in prime position to fight for a likely vacated belt later this year?
Scott Christ (6-5)
I think there’s real banana peel potential for Jose Ramirez here. Pedraza’s a really good fighter, skilled and smart, and the sort of guy with the right game plan who might lull Ramirez into fighting against the grain, so to speak, as Viktor Postol did in 2020. Postol also isn’t a big puncher and probably wouldn’t have done as well as he did if Ramirez had fought like Ramirez should have fought.
I do think Ramirez will win this, but I think he’s going to kind of eke it out, too. At his best, he’s a terrific fighter, but he doesn’t always dominate against better opponents. Maurice Hooker pushed him a firefight but got stopped. Postol made it a tactical mess for Ramirez for 12 rounds and lost a majority decision. Jose Zepeda forced a majority decision against Ramirez. But I just can’t figure Pedraza’s a “good bet,” because I’m not sure he has the exact right tools. I think he has the tools to win some rounds and make it competitive, but I don’t know that he can truly get the better of Ramirez over the fight; if he mixes it up, he’s going to get out-gunned, if he boxes he probably won’t out-box Ramirez by so much that he clearly wins seven rounds or more as the B-side. But it could be a tricky night for Ramirez. Ramirez MD-12
Wil Esco (8-3)
I think Jose Ramirez is a really good fighter who is largely motivated to bounce back from his first professional loss to Josh Taylor last year to work his way back towards world title contention. And with Taylor likely to make the move to welterweight at any moment, the four belts he’ll scatter will be back up for grabs and I expect Ramirez will be contending again soon enough. Ramirez didn’t have the real nasty streak he needed to deal with Taylor last spring, but he does work the body with good effectiveness and I truly think he’s learned some lessons from that fight.
As for Pedraza, I just think he’s fighting above his best weight and I don’t think he has the sort of power he’ll need to keep Ramirez off of him. To that end I think it’s only a matter of time before Ramirez starts getting to him and once he becomes a stationary target it’ll be the beginning of the end. And before it’s all said and done I think Ramirez beats him into a forced submission. Ramirez TKO-7
John Hansen (8-3)
We’ve seen Jose Ramirez defeat guys as or more talented than Jose Pedraza. We’ve seen Jose Pedraza generally lose gutsy performances against opponents on the level of Jose Ramirez.
That’s not a knock against Pedraza. We’ve seen him take down a big name before, knocking down Ray Beltran and winning a unanimous decision back in 2018. But usually, when Pedraza takes on someone at the level of Jose Ramirez, he comes out on the short end.
Unfortunately for Pedraza, Jose Ramirez is a Jose Ramirez-level fighter.
Ramirez probably isn’t quite Vasily Lomachenko. He may or may not be better than Tank Davis. But, he has established the Jose hierarchy. Ramirez > Zepeda > Pedraza. Transitive rankings don’t always work in this sport, but I suspect they will this time.
I expect Pedraza will reward us all for watching, and will probably make it to the final bell. But, I think his best days came at 130 and 135, and he doesn’t have enough at 140 to beat Ramirez. Ramirez UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (7-4)
One of the annoying aspects of picking fights is the instinctive desire to pick the A-side, which winds up tainting your thinking as you review tape. I know full well that for all his successes, Jose Ramirez is far from a sure thing; even before the loss to Taylor, he had his fair share of issues against Viktor Postol and Jose Zepeda. It still felt like I was automatically saying to myself “oh, Ramirez can deal with that” while watching Pedraza chew up Julian Rodriguez.
Keep that in mind when I say that I really like Ramirez’s chances here.
The phrase that comes to mind in this matchup is “not enough.” Pedraza just doesn’t seem quite tricky enough to force Ramirez into a technical boxing match or powerful enough to hold his own when Ramirez inevitably gets inside and starts punishing his midsection. He is probably tough enough to stay on his feet, but I like Ramirez to bounce back from defeat with a vengeance. Ramirez UD-12
And the staff winner is...
Jose Ramirez (4-0)!
Ramirez vs Pedraza odds
DraftKings Sportsbook have Ramirez the favorite at -600, with Pedraza a +425 underdog. These are about the same odds as last weekend’s Jerwin Ancajas vs Fernando Martinez fight, where Martinez won as a +425 underdog, and certainly closer than Hector Garcia beating Chris Colbert as a +1100 underdog, but Ramirez is a clear favorite here.