Jose Pedraza saw the look on his opponent’s face as they approached the scale.
Julian Rodriguez (21-0, 14KOs) wound up coming in more than a full pound over the contracted limit for their 10-round junior welterweight fight. The unbeaten prospect from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey was given an hour to shed the weight but wound up renegotiating terms in order to proceed with their crossroads bout.
“He already lost the first round,” Pedraza told BoxingScene.com of his opponent’s perceived mindset. “Missing weight, this will mess with his mind. I plan to take advantage of that and make him pay in the ring.”
Pedraza (28-3, 13KOs) easily made weight for the ESPN-televised bout, which airs live Saturday evening from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. It will mark his fourth straight in Las Vegas and first with fans since the pandemic, having twice fought behind closed doors in 2020. The 2008 Olympian and former two-division titlist from Cidra, Puerto Rico saw his 2020 campaign delayed on two separate occasions before winning twice last summer to emerge as a junior welterweight contender.
Saturday’s bout will mark his first since a convincing 10-round win over Javier Molina last September. The hope was to return to the ring much sooner, though that proved to be far out of his control. The issue at the scale was concerning, though ultimately resolved and allowing Pedraza to make his 2021 debut.
“I’m very happy that we were able to come to an agreement,” notes Pedraza, who held titles at junior lightweight and lightweight. “I really wanted this fight and even with him missing weight I didn’t want anything to ruin it.
“I’m like a racehorse behind the gate, I’m just ready to go.”
Pedraza-Rodriguez will serve as the televised chief support to the WBO junior lightweight interim title fight between Shakur Stevenson and Jeremia Nakathila. Both bouts air live on ESPN beginning 10:00 p.m. ET.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox