8. 1981 – Eusebio Pedroza KO 13 Patrick Ford, Gimnasio Nuevo Panama, Panama City, Panama
Five months after losing a stirring majority decision to WBC featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez, Ford was given the chance to fight Sanchez’s WBA counterpart before Pedroza’s hometown fans. Pedroza, just 28 days removed from a non-title fifth round stoppage over Raul Silva, was making the 11th defense of the belt he captured from Cecilio Lastra nearly three years earlier, and in that time he established himself as amongst the sport’s elite with all-around skills amplified by extraordinary stamina. In fact, five of his 10 defenses had ended in knockouts between rounds 10 and 13.
For the first two-and-a-half rounds, Ford successfully duplicated the fast start he produced against Sanchez by exploiting his five-inch reach advantage and forcing Pedroza to box on the retreat. But late in the second Pedroza closed the distance and began strafing Ford’s body with searing blows. Every punch Pedroza landed was accompanied by a yelp from the Panamanian partisans, a sound heard often during Roberto Duran fights.
Pedroza’s multi-dimensional talents were on full display from that point forward. During one sequence late in round four Pedroza slipped six consecutive punches then landed several hard counters before tying up the challenger and forcing a break. Though Ford fought evenly at long range, Pedroza was the unquestioned master in the trenches and a series of final-minute surges served to tenderize Ford for the punishment to come.
As the fight swung into the “championship rounds” of 11 through 15, Pedroza’s exquisite pugnaciousness kicked into high gear. Pedroza belted the circling Ford with straight blows, one of which cut the challenger’s lower lip, and his rights to the ribs further depleted Ford’s gas tank. Pedroza’s efforts reached a crescendo late in the 13th when a hook to the body, a right uppercut to the jaw and a final hook to the ribs caused Ford to slump to the canvas. Even before referee Larry Rozadilla was still counting Pedroza jumped onto the ropes in jubilation. His instincts proved correct as the challenger failed to beat the count.
The judges’ cards reflected Pedroza’s dominance (120-109, 120-113 and 118-113 entering round 13) and the knockout finish also gave Pedroza temporary bragging rights over Sanchez, who was five weeks away from defending against European titlist Roberto Castanon.