Jose “Sniper” Pedraza is nearing a title shot while Shakur Stevenson is well on his way. Pedraza and Stevenson will see action June 9 on the Terence Crawford vs. Jeff Horn world championship event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (Pictured: Shakur Stevenson).
Pedraza (23-1, 12 KOs), from Cidra, Puerto Rico, will challenge Antonio Moran (22-2, 15 KOs) in a 10-rounder for the WBO Latino lightweight belt, while Stevenson (6-0, 3 KOs), the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, will step up in class against Aelio Mesquita (16-1, 14 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight contest.
And, in a battle of unbeatens, welterweight contender Jose Benavidez (26-0, 17 KOs) will face the iron-fisted Frank Rojas (22-0, 21 KOs) of Caracas, Venezuela, in a 10-rounder.
Crawford vs. Horn and Pedraza vs. Moran will be streamed exclusively on ESPN+ beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET., while Stevenson vs. Mesquita, Benavidez vs. Rojas, and other undercard bouts will be shown on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Pedraza, a former IBF super featherweight champion who made two successful title defenses, returned from a 14-month layoff on March 17 to score a shutout, eight-round decision over Jose Luis Rodriguez. Moran is riding a three-bout winning streak since a split decision defeat to Emanuel Lopez.
“I am excited because this will be my first fight in Las Vegas, which everyone knows is the fight capital of the world. I am determined to give a great performance,” Pedraza said. “I know Moran is a good fighter and coming to upset my plans, but I have worked very hard to make sure that does not happen. I expect to be victorious on June 9 and will continue to show I am a force at lightweight.”
Benavidez, who once held the interim WBA super lightweight title, will be fighting for the second time since returning from an 18-month layoff. Rojas has knocked out 19 opponents in a row and has fought all but one of his pro bouts in his native Venezuela.
“I have 21 knockouts in 22 fights. On June 9, I will add another knockout to my record,” Rojas said. “I’m coming for you, Benavidez! I’m 100 percent ready to give the fans a great fight. I hope you are ready because I’m going to knock you out. I’m going to rip his head off. Get ready.”
“I hope that Rojas trained hard and that he comes well prepared because I’m determined to stop him,” Benavidez said. “Rojas will not touch me at all. He will not rip my head off because I’m going to rip his head off first.”
Stevenson is coming off a career-best performance on April 28 in Philadelphia, when he knocked out the previously undefeated Patrick Riley in the second round.
“I’ve gotten the chance to fight at Madison Square Garden, and now I’m ready for my Las Vegas debut at MGM Grand on June 9,” Stevenson said. “There have been so many historic fights in that arena and now it’s my turn. It’s always fun to fight on Terence’s undercards. The Crawford family has adopted me, so I’m going to put on a great performance for them and everyone watching at MGM and on ESPN+.”
Also appearing on the undercard will be Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev (10-0, 9 KOs), an Egis Klimas-managed fighter, who will be fighting former WBA lightweight champion Darleys Perez (33-3-2, 21 KOs) in a 10-rounder for the vacant NABF super lightweight title.
Light heavyweight prospect Steve Nelson (10-0, 8 KOs), who is trained and managed by Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, will face Dashon Webster (10-1, 8 KOs) in a six-rounder.
Gabe Flores, Jr. (7-0, 5 KOs) will fight the unbeaten Dustin Southichack (4-0-1, 1 KO) in a six-round featherweight bout. The 18-year-old Flores, who made his pro debut just after his 17th birthday, will be making his third ring appearance of 2018.
Top prospect David Kaminsky (1-0) will see action in a six-round super welterweight bout against Trevor Lavin (1-0, 1 KO) of Topeka, Kan.