Pedraza plans to put his versatility to good use in title defense against Davis

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Jose Pedraza’s crowning achievement was exactly that: a one-sided unanimous decision over Andrey Klimov for a vacant 130-pound world title—a fight in which the “Sniper” displayed volatile ambidexterity.

Jose Pedraza

Jose Pedraza will make the third defense of his 130-pound world title January 14 when he takes on fellow unbeaten Gervonta Davis in Brooklyn, New York.

A natural right-hander, Pedraza unleashed from both the orthodox and southpaw stances during the June 2015 fight, targeting Klimov from range behind jabs with either hand. Then when Pedraza moved inside, he used crisp uppercuts to bludgeon Klimov’s head and body, hammering him along the ropes.

Pedraza’s 12-round annihilation of Klimov was evident in both the final stats (the Puerto Rican had a massive 272-121 edge in punches landed) and the judges’ scorecards (120-108 twice and 119-109—meaning Pedraza lost a combined one round).

Even as the beatdown was happening, Showtime ringside analysts Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi expressed appreciation for Pedraza’s skills.

“As a lefty, Pedraza was able to totally control this fight,” Bernstein said as Pedraza battered his Russian opponent’s face into a bloody mask. “Pedraza’s landed some huge punches on the inside, even as Klimov tries to unleash his attack.”

Said Malignaggi: “Those body shots are making me cringe, so I can’t imagine how Klimov feels. There’s really no safe place for Klimov.

“Unfortunately, [Klimov’s] plan ‘B’ seems to be fighting on the inside with Pedraza, which is just causing him to catch more of a beating.”

Jose Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs) plans to once again use his versatility to his utmost advantage January 14, when he makes his third title defense against Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (16-0, 15 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT). 

The battle of unbeatens matches a slick, 27-year-old boxer-puncher against a heavy-hitting 22-year-old southpaw, as Davis has obliterated all but one of his opponents—including the last eight in a row—and has gone past six rounds just once in his four-year pro career.

And he’s done it all under the guidance of one of the best fighters in history: Floyd Mayweather Jr. serves as Davis’ promoter and mentor.

Not that such details concern the champion.

“I know Davis is a strong kid and a great young fighter with an impressive record, but he isn’t on my level,” Pedraza says. “I’m sorry Davis is signed [with] Mayweather, because when I take away his undefeated record, I’m going to feel like I beat Mayweather.”

The only thing Gervonta Davis will leave with is the first loss on his record. I am looking to dominate this fight. Jose Pedraza

Davis, who has gone past six rounds just once in his career, is coming off a 41-second stoppage of Mario Antonio Macias in June—one of seven first-round wipeouts on his ledger.

Among the victims during Davis’ ongoing seven-fight knockout run is former champion Cristobal Cruz, who lost by third-round TKO in October 2015. However, Cruz had long been on the downside of his career, and none of Davis’ other opponents have the kind of skills and smarts that Pedraza possesses.

Count Showtime analyst and boxing historian Steve Farhood among those who are intrigued with how Davis will handle the champion’s chicanery.

“Gervonta is clearly a gifted fighter, [but he] hasn’t proven himself at the top level by fighting a guy who can adjust, which could be Pedraza’s big advantage,” says Farhood, who was ringside for Pedraza’s triumph over Klimov.

“Pedraza’s fought a number of different ways. He can switch from lefty to righty, and he’s a pretty talented and resourceful guy.”

Pedraza followed up his title-clinching win over Klimov with victories over Florida’s Edner Cherry (split decision, October 2015) and England’s Stephen Smith (unanimous decision, April 2016). And while he respects Davis’ abilities, he’s confident this title defense will end in the same manner as the first two: with his hand raised in victory.

“Davis is a complete fighter with a lot of talent, speed and power who will enter the ring as a young, hungry unbeaten challenger, and I am very happy to fight a challenger of his caliber,” Pedraza says. “But I will let him know what it feels like to share the ring with a real world champion.

“The only thing he will leave with is the first loss on his record. I am looking to dominate this fight.”

For complete coverage of Pedraza vs Davis, visit our fight page.

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