Former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza is hoping that a win over his upcoming opponent will bring him a step closer to a world title opportunity.
Pedaza will face undefeated junior welterweight contender Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez on Saturday, June 12 at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Pedraza-Rodriguez will be the ESPN televised co-featured bout to the WBO interim-junior lightweight title clash between Shakur Stevenson and Jeremiah Nakathila.
Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) is now 2-1 since moving up from lightweight. He captured world titles at super featherweight and lightweight.
In his junior welterweight debut, he was outboxed by top contender Jose “Chon” Zepeda. Since that outing, Pedraza has picked up wins over Mikkel LesPierre and Javier Molina.
Outside of the loss to Zepeda, the Puerto Rican boxer's other defeats came at the hands of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis.
Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs), who was a highly regarded amateur, has been asking his promoter, Top Rank, for a step up in competition - and Pedraza was one of the names he requested to face.
Pedraza is taking a big risk by facing an untested contender who is rising in the ranks, but he views the Rodriguez fight as a necessary step in securing another title shot.
“It has been almost a year without fighting. I can’t wait to get back in the ring, to bring home another win that will bring happiness to my people," Pedraza said.
“I like that this fight is against a hungry contender like Julian Rodriguez. I always like the idea of facing the best opponents because they bring the best out of me. I know that with a big win on June 12, I will get closer to a world title shot. That’s what we are fighting for.”