The mission for former lightweight world titleholders Jose Pedraza and Richard Commey was to shake off a loss in their previous fight in order to maintain their relevance and make their case for a bigger fight.
While neither man won, they did not lose either, fighting to a spirited split draw in a crowd-pleasing junior welterweight fight that headlined the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 28, 2022
Pedraza won the ninth and 10th rounds on all three scorecards to make it a draw.
After Commey had his best success in the first half of the fight, Pedraza came on strong in the second half of a bout that was a toss-up on paper and dead even when it was over. Judge David Sutherland scored it 96-94 for Commey, Henry Gueary had it 97-93 for Pedraza and Gary Ritter had it 95-95. Fight Freaks Unite/Big Fight Weekend scored it 96-94 for Pedraza.
“I was a little bit disappointed (in the draw) because I thought I won this fight but it is what it is,” Commey said. “This is boxing. I think I gave away a few rounds.”
Commey (30-4-1, 27 KOs), 35, of Ghana, who was moving up to 140 pounds and coming off a one-sided decision loss to three-division champion and former pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko in December, won two of the first three rounds on all three scorecards and set a fast face.
He knocked Pedraza off balance with a left hook in the second round and another in the third round, when he also gave Pedraza a bloody nose.
By the end of he fourth round there was swelling under Pedraza’s left eye and in the sixth round Commey suffered a cut over his left eye that referee Gerald Ritter ruled was from a punch. However, the cut was clearly caused by an accidental head butt as video replays showed.
Commey was bothered by the blood dripping into his eye and pawed at it for the rest of the round, but cutman Mike Bazzel got the cut under control in the corner and it did not severely hamper Commey.
Commey exerted a lot of energy during the first half of the fight and seemed to tire in the second half. Pedraza nailed him with a stiff left hand late in the seventh round and had his best round of the fight in the ninth.
Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs), 33, of Puerto Rico, who is also a former junior lightweight titlist, teed off on Commey in the ninth round, landing solid left hands and a pair of left uppercuts. Commey was on the ropes and late in the round there was desperation from his corner, which shouted at him to dig deep for the sake of his children.
After the ninth round, Commey trainer Andre Rozier told him to go get Pedraza because he needed the round to win. But Pedraza, who was trying to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to former unified junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez on March 4, won the ninth and 10th rounds on all three scorecards.
“I landed a great body shot. I felt that I hurt him, and that gave me the inspiration to keep going after him,” Pedraza said of his big ninth round and draw-sealing 10th round. “I actually believe those were the rounds that gave me the victory tonight, despite what the scorecards say.”
By winning the 10th round on judge Gary Ritter’s card, Pedraza pulled into a 95-95 tie to secure the draw.
“Even though my eye was inflamed, we understood that it was done because he has a good right hand,” Pedraza said through an interpreter. “The entire night, the whole point was to neutralize that right hand. Despite the fact that it was inflamed, I was able to do that.”
According to CompuBox statistics, Pedraza landed 165 of 496 punches (33 percent) and the harder-hitting Commey landed 149 of 684 (22 percent).
Perhaps a rematch might be in store.
“It is a draw. Obviously, I have to go back home and see my people. I love my people, and I gotta go back there, do what I gotta do,” Commey said.
Added Pedraza, “I’ve never turned down a fight, and I’m not going to start now. So, whatever Top Rank wants for me. If they demand a rematch, I’m ready to give Richard Commey a rematch because he deserves it and I have the utmost respect for him. But ultimately, my goal is to win a world title once again. Whatever I have to do, that’s what I’m willing to do.”