One of boxing’s greatest active fighters steps back in the ring Saturday night as Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1; 9 KOs) takes on Jose Pedraza (25-1; 12 KOs) in the Lightweight (135 lbs.) division. The fight will unify Lomachenko’s WBA title and Pedraza’s WBO belt, leaaving Mikey Garcia as the only other major title holder. Ring Magazine has Lomachenko as the Lightweight champion, with Pedraza the #3 contender. The fight takes place this Saturday, December 8 with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET. It airs on ESPN, and caps off a triple-header.
How do these two stack up?
Lomachenko: 30 years old | 5’7” | 65” reach | southpaw stance
Pedraza: 29 years old | 5’8” | 70” reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Lomachenko: W - Jorge Linares (TKO) | W - Guillermo Rigondeaux (RTD) | W - Miguel Marriaga (RTD)
Pedraza: W - Ray Beltran (UD) | W - Antonio Moran (UD) | W - Jose Luis Rodriguez (UD)
How did these two get here?
At this point, the credentials of Lomachenko are well established - dominant three division world champion and two time Olympic gold medalist who has an uncanny ability to make tough opponents just quit. But this is an interesting point in his career, with probably the most questions we have had about him in some time. He’s made his way up to Lightweight, and his first fight in the division (against Jorge Linares) was not his most flawless performance, as he hit the canvas for the first time. He still won, and he still won via stoppage, but the mistakes by Lomachenko are so few and far between that this is of great note. This is his first fight since, and his first fight since a shoulder injury in that fight, so it will be an interesting test of just what Lightweight Lomachenko is all about.
Jose Pedraza got here thanks to an August victory over Ray Beltran. In that fight, he claimed the WBO belt and earned this title unification shot against Lomachenko. Pedraza debuted in 2011 after his own Olympic career, and he had a good run at Super Featherweight. He suffered his first career loss in 2017 when he was stopped by Gervonta Davis, and he’s 3-0 since, all at Lightweight. Interestingly, it’s been four years and seven fights since he last stopped an opponent.
What can fans expect?
All things considered, Pedraza is just not at the level of Lomachenko. The advantages Loma holds here are numerous - hand speed, movement, defense... the list goes on. But there are some factors that add to Pedraza’s chances. He’s the bigger fighter (though not as big as other fighters Lomachenko will face if he stays here at Lightweight), and, well, he’s not the one coming in off of shoulder surgery. Which basically means that a Pedraza pick means you think Loma is compromised here. And I’m not ready to say that yet. That sounds like I don’t think much of Pedraza, but that’s not true - he’s just not Lomachenko. Expect Lomachenko to start a bit slow as he gets back in it, then pick things up as it goes on and put on an impressive show by the end.
Prediction: Vasily Lomachenko, late KO
Should you watch?
If you can, you should. Lomachenko is must-watch, and this should wrap up before the two title fights at UFC 231.