Jose Pedraza looks for his second fight as a junior welterweight to produce his first win at the weight.
The former two-division titlist will have to overcome a tall order, as he next faces former title challenger Mikkel LesPierre. Both boxers made weight for their ESPN-televised headliner, which takes place Thursday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.
Pedraza—who held titles at 130- and 135-pounds—tipped the scales at a career-heaviest 140.4. pounds. LesPierre checked in at 141 pounds for their scheduled 10-round main event.
A lightweight-title winning effort over Raymundo Beltran in August 2018 helped breathe new life into the career of Pedraza (26-3, 13KOs), although the glory was short-lived. The 31-year old from Cidra, Puerto Rico—whom represented his beloved island in the 2008 Beijing Olympics—saw his second divisional title reign just one fight later, dropping a 12-round decision to pound-for-pound entrant Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Pedraza bounced back with a 9th round stoppage of Antonio Lozada last May, before deciding to test the junior welterweight waters. The move backfired, dropping a decisive 10-round decision to former two-time title challenger Jose Zepeda last September in Las Vegas, for which he weighed 139.5 pounds.
LesPierre (22-1-1, 1KOs) rebounded from his lone career defeat and title challenge with a points win last December in New York City. It was the first fight back for the 35-year old southpaw from Brooklyn by way of Trinidad and Tobago—who works full-time as a data specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC—following a 12-round loss to then-unbeaten 140-pound titlist Maurice Hooker last March in Verona, New York.
The scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout headlines a six-fight show, taking place in front of a crowdless venue in compliance with Nevada commission COVID-19 protocol.
In the evening’s chief support, unbeaten 130-pound prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. (17-0, 6KOs) faces Josec Ruiz (21-2-3, 14KOs) in a scheduled 10-round lightweight heat. Both boxers weighed in at 132.4 pounds.
The televised co-feature slot will mark the second fight of 2020 for Flores, a 20-year old from Stockton, California who recently signed a managerial pact with James Prince. Flores claimed an eight-round win over Matt Conway on the undercard of Tyson Fury’s heavyweight championship knockout win over Deontay Wilder this past February in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ruiz steps up in class but enters riding a 16-fight unbeaten streak. The 25-year old lightweight from Miami by way of Managua, Nicaragua has not lost since suffering the second of two defeats to countryman Rafael Castillo in 2013. Ruiz is 13-0-3 since then, including a perfect 4-0 in the United States since relocating to Miami in 2019.
The run hasn’t impressed oddsmakers, including both Bet MGM and bet365 installing the rising prospect as a -5000 favorite. For those who love a longshot and believe in trends, Ruiz is a training stablemate of Mike Plania who scored an upset win over Joshua Greer Jr. in Tuesday’s ESPN headliner.
Among the evening's preliminary fights is an intriguing middleweight clash which could also provide a surprise, or at least some thrills.
David Kaminsky (6-0, 3KOs), a 19-year old Israeli southpaw from Tarzana, California braves the challenge of Utah-bred spoiler “Cassius” Clay Collard (6-2-3, 2KOs) in a scheduled six-round middleweight bout. Kaminsky—who signed with Top Rank and multi-year Manager of the Year Egis Klimas in 2018 at 17-years old—weighed 164.1 pounds for Thursday’s prelim, 0.1 lb. over the limit and having to strip down to his birthday suit after weighing 164.3 pounds on his first try. Collard checked in at pounds, looking to build on the momentum gained from back to back wins over unbeaten prospects this year, including an upset knockout of Raymond Guajardo in their condensed two-round thriller this past February in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Jose Pedraza, 140.4 vs. Mikkel LesPierre, 141—10 rds, junior welterweight
Gabriel Flores Jr, 132.4 vs. Josec Ruiz, 132.4—10 rds, lightweight
David Kaminsky, 164.1* vs. Clay Collard, 163.8—6 rds, super middleweight
Victor Rodriguez, 140.2 vs. Justin Horsley, 140.7—4 rds, junior welterweight
Frevian Gonzalez Robles, 129.4 vs. Jose Martinez, 127.8—4 rds, junior lightweight
* Kaminsky was 0.1 lb. over the contracted limit
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox