Jose Pedraza became a two-division world champion Friday with a 12-round unanimous decision over Ray Beltran to capture the WBO lightweight title in the main event of Top Rank on ESPN at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona
Two judges scored the bout 117-110, while a third had it 115-112. FightNights.com scored it 115-112. With the belt in hand, Pedraza is now set to face WBA champion Vasyl Lomachenko in a December 1 title unification.
Pedraza (25-1, 12 KO's), 29, of Puerto Rico, won a vacant junior lightweight title in June 2015 and made two successful defenses before getting knocked out by Mayweather Promotions start Gervonta Davis in January 2017, prompting his move up to lightweight.
The 2008 Olympian spent the next year out of the ring and parted with his former promoter to sign with Top Rank. Pedraza fought Jose Luis Rodriguez in an eight-round contest in March before taking on Antonio Morgan in a 10-round matchup in June. He also scored unanimous decision victories in those respective bouts.
Some questioned whether Pedraza was ready for Beltran after just two tune-up fights, but it was more than enough.
Beltran captured the vacant WBO world title in February, when he outfought a game Paulus Moses in a unanimous decision victory.
Pedraza dictated the pace in the first round behind his jab, but Beltran closed the distance in the second round and connected on a mighty uppercut. Pedraza started to let his hands go and opened up a cut around the left eye of Beltran, who could not find a place to counter.
In the third, Pedraza knocked Beltran back with a solid counter, and both men traded back and forth in the final seconds of the round.
Beltran started to connect to the body in the fourth round as he looked to slow down Pedraza's pace, but the newly-crowned champion still had an edge in speed, as he found a home for his jab.
In the sixth, however, Beltran kicked it up a notch and tried to make it a war on the inside, and he got the better of Pedraza. In the seventh, Beltran had some momentum, but he used up a lot of energy by throwing a lot of punches, allowing Pedraza to rally down the stretch.
Beltran figured that making the fight a war was the only way he was going to win the fight, so he continued to come forward, knocking Pedraza back multiple times with tight hands. But again, Pedraza's youth took over late in the round as Beltran slowed down.
In the ninth, Pedraza outboxed Beltran behind his jab as the veteran could not find the target.
In the 11th round, Beltran tried to press the fight once more, but he ran right into an uppercut, and got planted on his rear. With blood still spewing out around his left eye, Pedraza went for the kill, but was unable to get the KO.