Jose Ramirez took a twelve round unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza in Fresno California this past Friday on ESPN+. Ramirez fought for the first time since May 2021 when he lost to Josh Taylor in a fight to unify all four titles. Pedraza was on a three fight winning streak at 140 lbs. going back to 2019 when he last lost to Jose Zepeda by decision. Ramirez was the hometown guy fighting in Fresno against former lightweight titlist Pedraza in a Mexico vs Puerto Rico match up. Ramirez and Pedraza fought a competitively contested twelve round bout with ebbs and flows in momentum with Ramirez pulling away at the end. All three judges scored the fight 116-112 but it was a closer fight than those scores would indicate. The second, fourth and eleventh rounds were all very close and could swing either way. What Ramirez did well above anything else was put his punches together at just the right moment. Pedraza could box from the outside and limit the exchanges but in time Ramirez would score combinations in succession and put a stamp on the round. He did this well in round four and eleven which he stole the fourth on my card despite Pedraza largely controlling the round.
The first two rounds were pretty close with Ramirez edging the first two on my card though many did give the second round to Pedraza. In reality both rounds were tightly contested with ESPN’s punch stat showing a one punch connect lead for Ramirez after six minutes of action. Pedraza fought long term as a southpaw and began to jab effectively and move and befuddled Ramirez’s offense to one shot at a time. Pedraza began to effectively land his counters and set traps and heading to the end of the fourth it appeared that the fight was turning Pedraza’s way when Ramirez scored repeated right hands to win the round. After four rounds it was 39-37 on my score and Andre Ward had the same view. Ramirez got back to fighting an aggressive fight in the fifth round and scored his jab more than he had in previous rounds. He was able to force Pedraza to the ropes as well after Pedraza got off the ropes in the previous two rounds. In the sixth and the seventh Pedraza began to move and counter again and once more the fight looked like it was turning into the counterpunching contest he wanted.
Pedraza mixed a jab to the head with a cross to the body and started scoring uppercuts on Ramirez as he predicted where Ramirez’s head would be. However, this string of rounds that tightened the fight wound up being a last stand for Pedraza who lost power on his shots and began to fade. In the ninth round Pedraza’s right eye began to swell in a way that looked like it could effect the fight. Pedraza came back strong in the eleventh round and won the first two minutes and thirty seconds or so for Ramirez to come roaring back with right hands that scored effectively. Round twelve was a very competitive round where Ramirez closed the show on the front foot and putting his punches together. In the end Ramirez was announced as the winner but he did look vulnerable at times but also showed great offensive bursts and his head movement at times was fantastic. This performance though difficult was a much better result than rival Josh Taylor who barely retained his titles in a very controversial decision victory over Jack Catterall. With Regis Prograis still winning fights and Ramirez winning this fight and Teofimo Lopez likely to move up 140 has serious match ups in the wings and the top fighters look vulnerable.
Also on the card Richard Torrez made his debut at heavyweight after a 2020 Olympic run that saw him leave with a silver medal. Torrez won a second round KO after an awkward fight with lots of wrestling and an opponent in Allen Melson who just could not stay on his feet. Torrez suffered a nasty cut in the first round off of a bad headbutt and is fortunate the fight was not stopped. The cut was above the eye and looked quite deep and may pop up in future fights down the line and it would be a shame if that clash of heads turns him into a bleeder. Torrez is rugged but a little raw as he smothers his work a lot and will likely be involved with clashes of heads due to this style. I followed his Olympic run and root him on but he also has defensive liabilities as he got caught by two big right hands while trying to finish off Melson. Against a better fighter/harder puncher this could be a disaster. Still looking on positively for this twenty-two year-old heavyweight.