Jose Pedraza defeats Stephen Smith
By Patrick McHugh: IBF World super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs) used his powerful jab to pound out a 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night against #1 IBF Stephen Smith (23-2, 13 KOs) at the Foxwoods Resort, in Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA.
The judges scored the fight 116-111, 117-110 and 116-111.
Pedraza, 26, knocked Smith down with a hard right hand in the 9th round to help regain control over the fight. Smith had started to rally in rounds 4 through eight after struggling through the first three rounds of the contest.
The fight was a winnable one for Smith, but he had a tough time trying to figure out the head movement that Pedraza was using. Smith missed with a lot of shots, and the ones that landed didn’t have enough power on them to impress the judges.
In the 9th round, Pedraza caught Smith with a big right hand when he was charging forward. The shot caused Smith to stagger and touch the canvas with both gloves to keep from falling. The referee then rightfully scored it a knockdown.
Smith kept attacking Pedraza, but he was frequently missing with his power shots and hitting a lot of air. Pedraza’s head movement had Smith just looking very confused. At the same time, Pedraza’s stiff jab was constantly popping Smith’s head back all night long. Towards the end of the fight, Pedraza lost discipline and wasn’t using his jab as much as he had in the first five rounds of the contest. This enabled Smith to have some success. However, the 9th round knockdown really ruined it for Smith because it put him in a situation where he had to fight with desperation instead of intelligence. Smith kept walking into shots form Pedraza in the last four rounds of the fight.
The defeat for Smith puts his career in a bad place. His promoter Eddie Hearn said that he would get him another shot at a title, but you have to wonder whether it’ll help. Pedraza is arguably the weakest of the super featherweight champions right now. If Smith can’t beat him, then the odds of him being able to beat the other champions are very low. The current super featherweight champions are as follows: Francisco Vargas, Takashi Uchiyama, Javier Fortuna, Roman “Rocky” Martinez, Jose Pedraza and Miguel Berchet. It’s kind of sad to see how many champions there are in the super featherweight division, but my point is, I don’t see Smith being able to beat any of them.
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