Arnold Barboza Jr. didn’t ship the kind of statement-making win to demand larger and higher fights.

It was nonetheless an sincere effort by the 31-year-old Californian who turned away a stiff problem from former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza to stay unbeaten as a professional. Barboza gained by scores of 97-93, 96-94 and 96-94 of their ESPN-televised ten-round junior welterweight contest Friday night from Desert Diamond Area in Glendale, Arizona.

Barboza successfully fought off the again foot for a lot of spherical one. Pedraza continuously got here ahead however with out a lot of an offensive gameplan. Barboza persistently timed the previous two-division titlist along with his jab and proper hand behind it. A 3-punch mixture by Barboza landed clear, to which Puerto Rico’s Pedraza was unable to reply.

The development held true for a lot of the primary half of the competition. Pedraza continuously sought a gap however solely supplied a whole lot of higher physique motion with out letting his fingers go. Barboza was content material to take the openings offered to him, sitting again and catching an oncoming Pedraza along with his proper fingers.

Pedraza—who beforehand held the IBF junior light-weight and WBO light-weight titles—managed to place collectively a mixture at first of spherical 5. Barboza continued to work behind the jab and moved in reverse whereas Pedraza was in a position to open up his offense. The 33-year-old Boricua switched to southpaw and managed to land a protracted left hand. Barboza slipped the identical punch moments later however was persistently outworked for the primary time within the struggle.

Momentum remained with Pedraza by means of spherical six, although he was additionally compelled to deal with alongside his left eyebrow and reddening underneath each eyes.

Barboza regained management after he landed a proper hand at first of spherical seven.

“I made this struggle straightforward for me early however my mentality I wish to begin brawling,” Barboza informed ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. “It’s one thing I’ve to maintain engaged on.”

Pedraza was briefly on unsteady legs for the primary time within the struggle however shortly recovered. Barboza later scored with a two-punch mixture down the center. Pedraza got here again with a left hand however was warned for knocking down on the again of Barboza’s head.

Pedraza rallied late in spherical eight when he landed a straight left hand. It got here as a part of a 30-second drill which allowed Pedraza to outland Barboza over the course of the spherical, however statistically misleading as Barboza was in management previous to the purpose.

It wasn’t misplaced on Luis Espada, Pedraza’s stepfather and head coach who informed his son that he completely needed to let his fingers go within the remaining six minutes. Pedraza dug deep to hold out that mission however was warned halfway by means of spherical 9 for a low blow. Barboza maintained his desired vary and located a house for his jab and proper hand.

Blood trickled from a reduce simply exterior the proper eye of Pedraza, who ignored the wound and charged ahead within the remaining minute of the struggle. Barboza’s method was largely to maintain the Puerto Rican at bay and land simply sufficient to remain forward and never give away the spherical.

Pedraza fell to 29-5-1 (14KOs) and is now winless in his final three begins. His final win got here in an eighth-round stoppage of unbeaten Julian Rodriguez in June 2021, having since suffered a twelve-round defeat to former WBC/WBO junior welterweight champ Jose Ramirez and fought to a ten-round, break up determination draw with former IBF light-weight titlist Richard Commey final August 27 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Barboza superior to 28-0 (10KOs) with the win, his fifth straight to go the ten-round distance. He was unequivocal in what he desires subsequent—a shot at a junior welterweight title. Barboza referred to as out WBC ruler Regis Prograis, WBA titlist Alberto Puello and lineal/WBO king Josh Taylor.

He’s additionally keen to face at the least yet one more former champ to get to that time.

“If I can’t get any of them, you recognize who I would like,” Barboza said earlier than revealing his goal. “I would like Teofimo Lopez. If I can’t get him, I would like Jose Ramirez. My subsequent struggle needs to be larger.”

Headlining the ESPN tripleheader, Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete (36-1, 30KOs) and Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-1, 7KOs) meet for the vacant WBO junior light-weight title.

Jake Donovan is a senior author for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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