Julian Rodriguez has secured the step up in competition he has sought.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Rodriguez, an undefeated junior welterweight, and former two-division champion Jose Pedraza have agreed to terms for a 10-round fight that ESPN will televise sometime early this summer. The date and venue for the Pedraza-Rodriguez fight have not been solidified.
The 26-year-old Rodriguez is 21-0, including 14 knockouts, but his career stalled in 2017 and 2018 due to a nagging shoulder injury that was primarily responsible for a 22-month layoff. Rodriguez, a 2013 national Golden Gloves champion from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, is 5-0 (4 KOs) since he returned to the ring in July 2019.
In his most recent bout, Rodriguez, who has been promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. throughout his seven-year pro career, stopped Mexico’s Jose Eduardo Lopez (29-8-2, 15 KOs) in the third round October 31 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. In the bout before he stopped Lopez, Rodriguez dropped previously unbeaten Anthony Laureano (13-1, 4 KOs, 1 NC) three times and beat the East Hartford, Connecticut, native by first-round technical knockout August 22 at MGM Grand Conference Center.
Pedraza obviously is more experienced and accomplished at the championship level than anyone Rodriguez has faced since he made his pro debut in September 2013.
Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) has impressively won back-to-back, 10-round unanimous decisions over Mikkel LesPierre (22-2-1, 10 KOs) and Javier Molina (22-3, 9 KOs) in his past two fights.
The former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion has lost only to two-division champ Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23 KOs), three-division champ Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) and top contender Jose Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs, 2 NC).
Zepeda, of La Puente, California, defeated Pedraza by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder in September 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 31-year-old Pedraza responded to that decisive defeat in his 140-pound debut by beating Les Pierre and Molina in his two subsequent bouts.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.