Former lightweight titleholder, Richard Commey will make his junior welterweight debut against former two-weight world champion, Jose Pedraza at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
Commey, who briefly held the IBF lightweight title in 2019 before being dethroned by Teofimo Lopez, is coming off a points defeat to Vasiliy Lomachenko and welcomes the fresh start .
“I am really looking forward to this fight, it’s an opportunity for one of us to make a big statement in the 140-pound division,” Commey (30-4, 27 knockouts) told The Ring.
“It is a deep division, but so was lightweight. That doesn’t worry me. If you want to be the best, you have to challenge the best. I have been competing at lightweight all my career – over 11 years now. My team and I feel this is the right time to step up in weight and try to become a two-weight world champion.”
The 35-year-old Ghanaian, who has trained diligently under the watchful eye of Andre Rozier and Gary Stark in New Jersey, is fully aware of what his Puerto Rican opponent brings to the table.
“I have the upmost respect for Pedraza, not only as a fighter but as a human being,” said Commey. “He conducts himself very well and I’ve never seen or heard him being disrespectful to anyone.
“I look forward to sharing the ring with him. He is a very good technician and has a very high boxing IQ, so I will have to bring my ‘A’ game to be victorious. I do believe we will give the fans a treat and I can’t wait.”
Long-term manager Michael Amoo-Bediako is excited about the next chapter in his fighter’s career.
“I felt that he achieved everything he could at lightweight,” said Amoo-Bediako. “[He was] a world champion and headlined shows at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden.
“[We felt] now was the right time to move up and try to become two-weight world champion. I know how much it meant to Richard being a world champion – not just him, but for his people back home in Ghana. He wants to do that again to make them proud.”
Pedraza represented Puerto Rico at the 2008 Olympics before claiming silver at the 2009 World Championships. He turned professional in 2011 and won the vacant IBF junior lightweight title against Andrey Klimov (UD 12). “The Sniper” made two defenses before losing to Gervonta Davis (TKO 7).
That prompted a move up to lightweight, where he bested Ray Beltran (UD 12) to claim the WBO title. He quickly attempted to unify with WBA counterpart Vasiliy Lomachenko, but dropped a 12-round unanimous decision. The now 33-year-old moved up to 140 pounds where he was competitive in points losses to Jose Zepeda (UD 10) and Jose Ramirez (UD 12).
Credit: Ring Magazine