The young Jose Pedraza is only 23 years old and just 11 fights into his professional career, but the buzz about him and his potential for fistic stardom is already very loud. Pedraza is one of the most decorated amateurs in Puerto Rican boxing history. He took home the gold medal in the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, won a silver medal in the 2009 World Championships, and won bronze at the 2007 Pan American Games. He also competed for Puerto Rico in the 2008 Olympics.
Pedraza made his professional debut on February 18, 2011, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, scoring a TKO1 over Felix Rivera, also an accomplished amateur turning pro, in just 85 seconds. Demonstrating the poise of a seasoned fighter, Pedraza found the proper openings and placed punches in bunches, mixing shots up top with blows to the body.
Five weeks later, Pedraza was back in the ring on March 29, making his American debut at BB King Blues Club in New York City. This time Pedraza was extended 2:25, taking on Corben Page, who was felled twice before the referee halted the action inside the opening round. In this fight, Pedraza showed excellent footwork and lateral movement, something that he considers as one of his strengths.
"I think one of my greatest strengths is my movement. I move to a lot of different angles and try to look for different openings," said Pedraza.
On June 10, at Roseland Ballroom, in New York City, Pedraza faced off against Tomi Archambault, on the eve of the city’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Following two knockdowns after just 2:21 into the opening round, referee Pete Santiago halted the contest, earning Pedraza his third consecutive first-round stoppage. The bout was aired on ESPN Deportes.
Two months later, on August 19, Pedraza returned to Ponce, Puerto Rico. Against Pedro Antonio Salcedo, Pedraza was extended the distance for the first time, earning a unanimous decision over six rounds, with a score of 60-54 across the board.
To finish off 2011, Pedraza scored two more knockout victories, stopping John Wampash in four, on November 11, then knocking out Herbert Quartey in round five with a left hook and right uppercut, on December 30.
Pedraza had five victories in 2012, three in Puerto Rico and two in the US. In Puerto Rico, Pedraza scored a TKO4 over Anthony Woods, at Coliseo Salvador Dijols, in Ponce on February 24, followed by two eight-round unanimous decision victories over Carlos Claudio, at Coliseo Mario Morales in Guaynabo on June 15, and Jose Valderrama, at Coliseo Guillermo Angulo in Carolina on August 31.
His two wins in the United States were both televised by SHOWTIME. On April 27, at the Buffalo Run Casino, in Miami, OK, Pedraza opened up a tripleheader, outboxing the very game Gil Garcia over eight rounds to earn a unanimous decision with scores of 80-71 twice, and 79-72. In round five, Pedraza downed Garcia with a right uppercut-left hook combination. On October 12, at the Ameristar Casino, in St. Charles, MO, Pedraza faced Philadelphia southpaw Tevin Farmer. After a cautious start, Pedraza steadily outworked Farmer who could never catch up. In the eighth and final round, Pedraza looked for the finish and flurried to the body, leading to the referee’s stoppage 47 seconds into the frame.
Already athletically adept at running track, Pedraza was drawn to boxing at an early age and soon had aspirations of becoming a champion. Although, his father, Luis Espada, initially objected to his son wanting to participate in such a sport. Seeing how much his son desired to take this path, however, convinced Espada to give his blessing and become his son's trainer. Pedraza and Espada would like nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of another Puerto Rican father-and-son team, Felix Trinidad Sr. and Jr.
For one thing, Pedraza is not at all worried about living up to such lofty expectations. "In boxing, it is not good enough to win, you've got to impress. I train well and prepare for all my fights, so I can make sure I live up to the expectations," he said.