By Elliot Foster (@FreelanceFoz)
José Pedraza won a world title at his first attempt.
It was a dominant display from the San Juan native, who claimed the vacant IBF super featherweight title, as he outpointed Andrey Klimov over 12 rounds.
Pedraza, an undefeated Puerto Rican southpaw, moved to 20 fights undefeated after picking up a unanimous decision at the expense of the Russian, who seldom offered anything in the fight.
A boxing lesson was given way to by a bloodletting at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama as the belt relinquished by Rances Barthelemy was on the line.
In control from the opening bell, Pedraza, 26, spent most of the first half of the fight laying everything, fit and ready for a knockout finish of the 32-year-old, which didn’t come.
Having taken the first three rounds comfortably, Pedraza had some trouble in the fourth –– a round which was given to the man from Klimovsk –– before normal service resumed, at which point Klimov was playing catch-up for the remainder of the contest.
He had a bloody nose and his eyes were sliced up as Pedraza lived up to his ‘Sniper’ ring moniker.
The same pattern continued until the referee had to look long and hard at Klimov in rounds seven and eight. But he survived to drop a decision, which was confirmed after scorecards of 120-108 twice and 118-109.
With defeat, Klimov ended a three-fight winning streak since coming second to Terence Crawford.
“This has been years in the making for me,” said the new champion, Pedraza, after the fight.
“We’re just a small island and this was an honour for me to bring home the title.”by