Jose Zepedahas scored the biggest win of his career…
The 34-year-old Mexican American professional boxer and junior welterweight contender earned a unanimous decision against former lightweight and junior lightweight world titlist Jose “Sniper” Pedraza, who was moving up to 140 pounds.
Zepeda, a southpaw, outworked and outfought Pedraza in an entertaining fight and won 97-93 on all three scorecards.
“It’s probably one of the best days of my life. It’s Mexican Independence Day. I was giving everything for Mexico,” Zepeda said. “I guess persistence (was the key to victory). The people here were giving me excitement to go get him, to go after this guy. We knew that he was a hell of a boxer.”
Both of Zepeda’s losses came in world title bouts, a second-round stoppage due to a shoulder injury for a vacant lightweight belt to Terry Flanagan in 2015 and a disputed majority decision to Jose Ramirezfor a junior welterweight title in February. But with a strong performance against Pedraza (26-3, 13 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, Zepeda has put himself back in the title hunt and called for a rematch with Ramirez.
“There were talks that maybe the winner of this fight would go after Ramirez,” Zepeda said. “For me, the rematch, I would like that. It was a very close fight. A lot of people thought I won, a lot of people thought he won. I would love a rematch. I think the people would love it, too.”
It took a couple of rounds for the fight to settle into a rhythm, with Pedraza coming forward and Zepeda (31-2, 25 KOs),, looking to counter and relying heavily on his jab.
Zepeda’s rapid-fire left hands landed often in the fifth round, but his jab also proved difficult for Pedraza to handle. In the sixth round, Pedraza began to go more to the body and landed a few shots that were audible at ringside, but Zepeda took the shots well and continued to fire jabs down the middle as Pedraza’s face began to show the wear from the shots.
Pedraza, his right eye closing and perhaps believing he was down, came out strong in the eighth round and landed a hard left hand in the opening seconds and then began to stick his jab in Zepeda’s face over and over, forcing him to back up.
According to CompuBox statistics, Zepeda landed 167 of 470 punches (36 percent) and Pedraza connected with 141 of 439 blows (32 percent).
Pedraza remained aggressive in the 10th round and cut Zepeda over his left eye in the best action round of the fight, one that closed with them in a toe-to-toe exchange.
Pedraza dropped to 1-2 in his past three fights, having lost his lightweight belt by decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in a unification fight in December before bouncing back with a ninth-round knockout of Antonio Lozadain May, before he elected to move up to junior welterweight.
“It was a very good fight. He looked very well, and I just couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to do,” Pedraza said. “Nothing came out the way I wanted. The instruction from my corner was to throw more punches, but nothing was going my way.
“This was my debut at 140. I felt good. I will meet with my team to evaluate if we stay at 140, or if we move down in weight.”