By Luis A. Cortes III, Ringside
In front of a packed sold out crowd in the Hulu Theater of Madison Square Garden, the man recognized as one of the pound for pound best fighters in the world, WBA Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1)(9) of Akkerman, Ukraine took on WBO Champion Jose Pedraza (25-1)(12) from Puerto Rico. It was a battle to unify there world championships and to make the case that they were the best in the loaded division.
The early rounds started with Pedraza trying to move and establish his jab in order to offset the in and out movement of Lomachenko. As both fighters continued to feel each other out, it was Lomachenko that was able to land a pair of straight left hands to the face of Pedraza, which supplied the early action. Despite getting caught with a combination in the third, Pedraza was able to also land some shots as he tried to control the range of the fight, avoiding the sharp angle cuts of Lomachenko.
This lasted until the mid point of the fourth round when Lomachenko was finally able to get inside of Pedraza's pesky jab as he landed some sharp lefts and rights to win the round and establish his tone for the first time. Pedraza was able to return to establishing his pace of the fight in the fifth round as he kept Lomachenko at bay with his faints, flicking jab, and head movement. Rounds six and seven saw Lomachenko put his foot on the gas pedal as he stepped up his work rate in order apply pressure on Pedraza. In doing so, he was able to rake him with single power shots and two punch combinations as he clearly took control of the fight. Although Pedraza was able to have his moments in the ninth and tenth rounds, it was the continued pressure of Lomachenko that dominated these rounds.
In the eleventh round, Lomachenko exploded with a series of punches behind his superior footwork that set up the angled punches to the body and head of Pedraza that wore him down. After taking a knee, Pedraza rose to his feet, only to be dropped again right before the end of the round. There were some good exchanges between the two fighters in the twelfth round. When the fight went to the scorecards they read, 119-107, 117-109 twice in favor the new unified champion, Lomachenko.
Navarrete Dethrones Dogboe by Unanimous Decision to claim WBO Jr. Featherweight Championship
The WBO Jr. Featherweight world championship was on the line when Isaac Dogboe (20-1)(14) took on Emanuel Navarrete (26-1)(22). It didn't take long before the two fighters got warmed up and starting trading power shots to both the body and head. Navarrete used a pressuring attack to back up Dogboe in the second round creating problems for the champion early. Dogboe responded in the third by boxing and trying to time the challenger utilizing a body attack as well in the fourth to try and slow down Navarrete. Navarrete took control of the fight as the first half of the contest concluded and the action went into the seventh round. Dogboe continued to reach and push his punches trying to find Navarrete who started to look frustrated as he was hit with uppercuts that found his chin.
Entering the championship rounds, it was Navarrete that was able to use a sharp right hand to the body that hurt Dogboe to the body. Navarrete tried to jump on Dogboe, but the tenth round came to an end. Navarrete came out in the eleventh round looking to hurt and finish the champion. Dogboe continued to try and move and look for a timed shot to sneak in to offset the pressure of Navarrete. Meanwhile, Navarrete chased Dogboe around the ring landing body and head shots that clearly showed who was in control of the fight entering the final round. Dogboe needed to do something major in the final round in order to save his championship, but instead he boxed and moved around the ring as if he was comfortably ahead. Navarrete acted like the challenger wanting to win the belt, by pressing the action and closing the show. 115-113, 116-112 twice in favor of the new champion, Emanuel Navarrete.
Lopez Destroys Menard inside of a minute to close out impressive 2018
Brooklyn Lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (11-0)(9) continued his fast rise through the ranks as he took on Mason Menard (34-4)(24) and landed a brutal straight right hand that ended the fight just 44 seconds into the opening round. Lopez attacked Menard from the start of the fight and landed a couple hard shots before catching Menard, who was out cold before he even landed face first on the canvas. This was a statement made by Lopez to close out a break out 2018. After the fight ended, Lopez completed the performance with his signature back flip, before stating that he feels he is ready for tougher challenges on the road towards a world title in 2019.
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