More than five years have passed since Gervonta Davis won the IBF junior lightweight title from Jose Pedraza. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The powerful southpaw from Baltimore remains the only opponent who has stopped Pedraza inside the distance. Throughout Davis’ ascent in multiple divisions, many boxing observers have continued to identify Pedraza as the best opponent on Davis’ list of conquests.
An appreciative Pedraza, who will fight Richard Commey on Saturday night, has respected Davis’ rise to stardom from afar.
“It’s been incredible to watch his development as a fighter,” Pedraza told BoxingScene.com. “He’s a very complete fighter. He has a lot of skills, a lot of tools. I considered him a pound-for-pound fighter, definitely. But for him to get to the top, it’s gonna depend on discipline because he definitely has all the skills and the power and all the tools to be one of the top fighters in the world.”
The 27-year-old Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) has won WBA secondary championships in the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions since he defeated Pedraza by seventh-round technical knockout in January 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Pedraza moved up from the 130-pound division for the fight after Davis defeated him and later won the WBO lightweight title.
“It makes me happy to know that people recognize me as his toughest opponent to this day,” Pedraza said. “I definitely had trouble making weight [for the Davis fight], but that’s not an excuse. He was the better man that night. He beat me. But I also feel, at the same time, that if I didn’t have those problems making weight that maybe it would’ve been a different story. I was in the fight. But, you know, I don’t wanna use that as an excuse. He beat me and that wasn’t what was supposed to happen.”
The 33-year-old Pedraza will try to re-establish himself in the 140-pound division against Commey in his first fight since Jose Ramirez beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder March 4 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. Ramirez, a former WBC and WBO champion, out-pointed Pedraza by the same score, 116-112, on each judge’s card.
Caesars Sportsbook lists Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-4, 14 KOs) as a 3-1 favorite to beat Ghana’s Commey (30-4, 27 KOs) in a 10-round main event ESPN will televise from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ESPN’s three-bout broadcast will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Richard Torrez (2-0, 2 KOs), a 2021 U.S. Olympian from Tulare, California, is scheduled to meet Mexico’s Marco Antonio Canedo (4-2, 2 KOs) in a six-round heavyweight bout that will open the telecast. Jared Anderson (11-0, 11 KOs), a heavyweight prospect from Toledo, Ohio, is set to box Serbia’s Miljan Rovcanin (24-2, 16 KOs) in the eight-round co-feature.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.