Jose Pedraza’s second appearance in the MGM Grand “Bubble” resulted in yet another victory, as the Puerto Rican former two-weight world champion bested fellow 2008 Olympian Javier Molina via unanimous decision (99-91 and 98-92 2x) in the junior welterweight main event.
Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs), who won a decision over Mikkel LesPierre on July 2, returned to Las Vegas and authored his most significant junior welterweight victory. Molina (22-3, 9 KOs) entered the evening on a five-bout winning streak, a career-reviving run that included an upset over Amir Imam back in February.
Pedraza, who switched from orthodox to southpaw, hurt Molina in the seventh round and widened the gap as the bout reached its conclusion. He has won two bouts since dropping a decision to Jose Zepeda last September in his junior welterweight debut.
Pedraza said, “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. 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.”
Ajagba Goes the Distance
The knockout didn’t come as expected, but Efe Ajagba’s Top Rank debut ended with his hand raised. Ajagba (14-0, 11 KOs) notched a 10-round unanimous decision over Jonnie Rice (13-6-1, 9 KOs) in the co-feature, controlling the distance with his jab as he cruised to victory by scores of 99-91 2x and 98-92.
Ajagba hurt his right hand in the fight, only the second time he’s gone the distance in his career.
In undercard bouts:
Featherweight: Robeisy Ramirez (5-1, 3 KOs) UD 8 Felix Caraballo (13-3-2, 9 KOs). Scores: 80-72 2x and 79-73. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ramirez pitched a near-shutout over Caraballo, a native of Puerto Rico who lost via sixth-round stoppage to former featherweight world champion Shakur Stevenson in June. Ramirez has now won five straight since a shocking split decision defeat in his professional debut.
Junior Middleweight: Leo Ruiz (8-0, 5 KOs) UD 6 Rodrigo Solis (4-5-1, 2 KOs). Scores: 59-53 2x and 58-54. Ruiz laid a beating on Solis, a native of Cancun, Mexico, who accepted the fight on four days’ notice. Solis, however, lasted the distance against top prospect Ruiz, who has sparred the likes of unified junior welterweight world champion Jose Ramirez and top welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz.
Super Middleweight: Christian Montano (10-0, 7 KOs) UD 6 Ryan Adams (7-3-1, 6 KOs). Scores: 60-54 2x and 58-56. Montano, in his first fight in nearly 18 months, returned with a workmanlike decision victory.
Lightweight: Bryan Lua (6-0, 3 KOs) KO 2 Luis Norambuena (4-7-1). Lua had not fought in more than two years and made up for lost time, knocking out Norambuena with a left hook late in the second round.
Welterweight: Jahi Tucker (1-0, 1 KO) TKO 1 Deandre Anderson (1-2). Tucker needed only 2:56 to prevail in his pro debut, stopping Anderson on his feet following a flurry of punches. Anderson, also a pro MMA fighter, was coming off a split decision win against a previously unbeaten fighter.
Welterweight: Kasir Goldston (1-0) UD 4 Isaiah Varnell (3-3, 2 KOs). Scores: 40-36 and 39-37 2x. The 17-year-old Goldston, from Albany, N.Y., had to go the distance in his first pro outing and swept the fourth round on all three judges’ cards to secure the win.