Former two-weight champion Jose Pedraza continued his march towards a title tilt at 140lbs with a decisive points win over Javier Molina at the ‘Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Saturday night. Scores were 98-92 (twice) and 99-91.
Moving in and out of range, Pedraza was too slick and accomplished for Mexican Molina, who was riding a five-fight winning streak including a surprise points victory over former WBC title challenger Amir Imam in February.
It was a roughhouse encounter at times with Molina enduring a swelling under his left eye from the second and a number of headbutts, ruled unintentional. One butt left Molina (22-3, 9 KOs) with a deep laceration on his nose to the outside of his left eye.
Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) also suffered a bloody nose, but wobbled Molina in the seventh and buzzed the Mexican again in the 10th to secure a comfortable win on the cards.
After an ice-cool performance, the Puerto Rican switch-hitter, a former title-holder at 130lbs and 135lbs, called for a shot at the winner of the projected unification clash between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez, or a rematch with old rival Jose Zepeda.
“They do name me the ‘Sniper’ and that means I have to be patient, and when my moment comes, I have to take advantage of it,” said Pedraza. “That’s what I did tonight because I was able to wear him down, break him down and make him fight my fight. It was the experience that I’ve had at the top level that helped me finally put it together. I’ve had the experience, I’ve had the talent, and it’s just on a night like this that I’m happy I could put it all together.
“I do believe I’m ready for a world title opportunity. Whoever it happens to be between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez, I want the winner of that fight. If for some reason I can’t get a world title shot against them, I do want to respectfully ask Jose Zepeda for the rematch.”
On the undercard, Nigerian heavyweight hope Efe Ajagba (14-0, 11 KOs) made his Top Rank debut but had to settle for a wide points verdict over Jonathan Rice. Scores were 99-91 (twice) and 98-92. Ajagba damaged his right hand en route to victory.
He won behind the jab in a low-key performance with Rice (13-6-1, 9 KOs) occasionally threatening with right-hand counters, but never enough to hint at an upset.
Meanwhile, two-time Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez outscored Puerto Rican Felix Caraballo in a featherweight eight-rounder. Scores were 80-72 (twice) and 79-73 in favour of the Cuban who defeated Shakur Stevenson at the Rio Olympics.
Main image: Pedraza (right) was too smooth for Molina. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.