On Saturday, December 8th, José “Sniper” Pedraza will face top pound-for-pound fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko. It is a given that, no matter the opposition, most Puerto Ricans will always root for their own. It isn’t different this time, when José “Sniper” Pedraza meets Vasiliy Lomachenko. Lomachenko, coming off a great victory over Jorge Linares, coming off the canvas to stop him, with a shoulder injury to win the WBA Lightweight Title. Pedraza coming off a unanimous decision victory over Raymundo Beltrán to win the WBO Lightweight Title. Coming into this fight, Lomachenko is the favorite by a wide margin but, we’ll breakdown this fight to see each fighter’s strength and weaknesses.
Vasiliy Lomachenko is widely considered the pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world. He’s been racking up wins left and right while leaving a trail of demoralized victims that have no idea how to even get close to him. One of his biggest tools is his unorthodox movement that seems to hypnotize and leave his opponents helpless. He has developed a style that no one can prepare for and one that frustrates his adversaries. The only thing I can compare Lomachenko to is an Elite Word-Class Fencer, with the precision of a surgeon. He has made the greatest of hid division get so frustrated, they aren’t able to fight anymore, Nicholas Walters and Guillermo Rigondeaux are prime examples of that. He has found a way to appear to be in front of his opponent when he really isn’t, connecting from all angles on the way in and on the way out. The display he put against José Ramírez was a thing of beauty that showed us the high level of Ring IQ we’re dealing with here. The way he glides in the ring makes it easy for him to find angles, set traps and unload massive combinations on his opponents.
Lomachenko, obviously, does not have many holes in his game but, he has some. He definitely gets hit clean, especially when fighting on the inside. He has the habit of putting the earmuffs when he fights inside, which hasn’t cost him much yet. In his fight against Linares, Lomachenko looked to fight on the inside more than other fights maybe because of his injured shoulder, maybe because he was the smaller man, doesn’t matter. Although his most vulnerable moment came when he got knocked down from a counter right hand to a lazy jab from southpaw on the 6th round, he still got hit more on the inside than other fights. We know Pedraza is an unorthodox fighter that although he’s very long, likes to fight on the inside. Pedraza can definitely take advantage of those inside exchanges.
Pedraza usually is the fighter with the reach advantage on fight night and this time isn’t different, he comes in with a 5 ½ inch reach advantage. Now, Pedraza never got married to the outside fighting style but, definitely knows how to do it, he demonstrated this on the Ray Beltran fight. Before you scream at your computer, I am aware that between Ray Beltrán and Vasiliy Lomachenko there’s a world of difference but, hear me out: Did you see the way Pedraza used that nasty southpaw Jab? It was incredibly effective. Pedraza’s Jab combined with his constant switching stance makes him a dangerous fight for any of the top fighters in the division.
Pedraza sometimes likes to get into wars with his opponents, that brings trouble when you’re fighting someone faster and stronger, which is what happened against Gervonta Davis and could easily happen against Lomachenko. In the Davis fight, “Sniper” admitted he had a specific game plan but, decided to trade shots with his opponent and got lit up, then Knocked out. Pedraza tends to reach with his punches, sometimes telegraphing his strikes and opening the opportunity for counters, something you can’t do with “Hi-tech”. For the last, Pedraza tends to sit on his punches, sometimes flat-footed which can bring a world of trouble, especially against Lomachenko.
This is going to be a treat for real boxing fans, no matter the length or result. Based on the skills mentioned above, everything points to a decisive Lomachenko victory. He seems to be the better fighter, more skilled and on the rise. I can see a scenario where they feel each other out for the first 3 rounds and Pedraza doesn’t let Lomachenko get into rhythm. Rounds 5-9 could be where Lomachenko establishes his superior skills and we see Pedraza retreat and try to avoid the onslaught. Pedraza has the heart the size of Puerto Rico, so don’t expect him to stop trying to catch Lomachenko with something or changing his approach on-the-fly. I will bail myself out and make 2 predictions, one with my brain and one with my heart.
Brain: Lomachenko by KO 6th
Heart: Pedraza by KO 8th