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Jose Pedraza: Can he thrive at 140? Robeisy Ramirez needs to improve

Robeisy Ramirez

By Chris Williams: Jose Pedraza looked good in beating an over-matched Mikkel LesPierre by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision last Thursday in a contest held in the 140-pound weight class at The Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On the downside, the performance by Pedraza showed a fighter that will only be capable of winning a title once Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis, and Josh Taylor move up to 147.

Pedraza doesn’t match-up well with those types of punchers, and he would be out of his league as he was against Jose Zepeda, Gervonta Davis, and Vasily Lomachenko.

Pedraza, not an elite 140-pounder

Pedraza will have just as many problems against these 140-pound contenders:

  • Jose Zepeda
  • Pablo Cesar Cano
  • Ivan Baranchyk
  • Arnold Barboza
  • Viktor Postol
  • Mario Barrios
  • Subriel Matias

Pedraza already lost to Jose Zepeda by a 10 round unanimous decision last September. After that defeat, Pedraza should have taken it as a hint and moved back down to 135 or 130.

You hate to say it, but Zepeda would beat Pedraza again if they were to fight right now. Pedraza’s best and perhaps only chance of winning a title at 140 is if he goes after one of the titles after Ramirez and Taylor move up to welterweight.

If Pedraza has the bad luck of fighting any of the above seven light-welterweight contenders on my list, he’ll surely lose.

Robeisy Ramirez

Ideally, Pedraza needs to go on a diet and move back down to 130, because he’s not cut out for the 140-pound division. Pedraza was one of the best at 130, and he could still be a major player in that division had he stayed down there.

Pedraza moved up in weight to 135 after Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis knocked him out in the seventh round in 2017, and that was a mistake.

It’s unfortunate that Pedraza moved up in weight considering that he’d be in a position to fight for world titles at super featherweight if he’d stay in that division.

While a lot of boxing fans were ecstatic about the boxing skills that the former two-division world champion Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) exhibited in beating 35-yer-old LesPierre (22-2-1, 10 KOs), it didn’t answer the questions about his viability at 140. The 31-year-old Pedraza didn’t show improvement over his loss to Jose Zepeda in 2019.

Winning a title won’t be easy or Jose

Pedraza can beat most of the 140-pound counters apart from seven or eight, which means he doesn’t possess the talent to hold down a world title in that division.

If Pedraza got his mitts on the WBO light-welterweight belt, he might be able to hold onto it for a little while. The WBO often has a lot of mediocre contenders in their top 15 rankings. For example, right now, the WBO has these three beatable fighters in the top three spots at 140:

  1. Jack Catterall
    2. Liam Paro
    3. Chris Algier

LesPierre lacked the power, youth, and talent to show whether Pedraza is wasting his time at light-welterweight. What I noticed was that Pedraza looked fragile in the later rounds, and vulnerable when taking headshots. It was lucky for Pedraza that LesPierre lacked the punching power to expose him to the way Gervonta Davis, Jose Zepeda, and Vasiliy Lomachenko had done to him in the past.

Pedraza beat LesPierre by the scores 100-88, 99-89, and 99-89. The first score was the more accurate of the three. Boxing News 24 had it 100-88, which is the score I had it. Pedraza landed 168 of 406 for a 41% connect rate. LesPierre landed 69 of 443 for a 16% connect rate.

As far as Pedraza’s talent goes, he looked terrific in showing off boxing skills that fighters would die for at 140. However, when Pedraza was getting hit back, he looked very beatable, and you could tell if he wasn’t facing a weak opponent like LesPierre, he would have been catching some Zs on the canvas. In other words, Pedraza has skills, but his chin and power aren’t a good fit for the 140-pound division.

Robeisy Ramirez

Robeisy Ramirez still not impressive

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez beat journeyman Adan Gonzalez by a dull six-round unanimous decision in the 126-lb division last Thursday night on ESPN on the Pedraza-Lespierre undercard. The scores were 60-54 x 3.

Although Ramirez (4-1, 3 KOs) did improve upon his four-round split decision loss to Gonzales (5-3-2, 2 KOs) last August in Philadelphia, it still wasn’t an impressive effort from the Cuban.

Ramirez fought in fits and starts, reminding me of a car running out of gas. He didn’t show the ability to throw combinations and pour it on his overmatched opponent. Once again, Gonzales was competitive with Ramirez, and the reason for that is the Cuban isn’t that good.

Ramirez has a BORING style

What was apparent from the first minute of the Ramirez-Gonzales rematch was how the 26-year-old Robeisy’s fighting style was similar to Guillermo Rigondeaux. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though. Both guys are from Cuba and were brought along in the system there.

Ramirez is overly defensive in the same way that Rigondeaux is, and that’s going to make it hard for him to become crowd-favorite unless he changes his game. I don’t think Ramirez can change. He lacks the hand speed and punching power to get away with being an aggressive fighter, and he doesn’t like getting hit.

How long will Arum wait on Robeisy to develop?

You have to wonder what Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was thinking last Thursday with Ramirez winning a dull six-round decision over Gonzales. What is Arum going to do with Ramirez? If he’s not an entertaining fighter, and if he’s already losing to journeyman fighters, how long before his career implodes?

Hopefully, Arum has a good end game for Ramirez because he can’t keep him around for long if he lacks the talent to go anywhere. Before Arum dumps Ramirez, he needs to exhaust all efforts to try and improve the Cuban fighter.

That means he should put him in with the best trainer he can find, and then look to change his fighting style from top to bottom.

These are things Ramirez needs to change:

  • Throw more jabs
  • Attack with combinations
  • Stop backing away from his opponents
  • Work on his punching power. Hit the weights
  • Increase punch output x 2 for starters.

Ramirez has a better chance of winning a title at featherweight than Pedraza does at 140. I wouldn’t favor Ramirez to beat any of the current featherweight champions, and that includes WBA secondary champ Can Xu. Ramirez doesn’t throw enough punches to beat the weaker belt-holders at 126 in Can Xu and Josh Warrington. Those guys would beat Ramirez on work rate alone, and he’d lose a wide decision to both.

Arum needs to have a timeframe for how long he’s willing to wait on Robeisy to progress. If he doesn’t show improvements at a certain point, Arum should cut his losses and send Robeisy adrift.




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