Ray Beltran gets back to work
As interviews begin now with Ray Beltan, the words “WBO lightweight champion” accompany introduction. And those are sweet words to his hears.
“Yeah, finally,” he said, with a big smile, while inside the dressing quarters of the downstairs portion of the Wild Card Boxing Club, last Friday. “It feels good; it’s a little bit different. It feels great, yeah.”
Beltran – who defends his title this coming Saturday at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on ESPN – captured his long-coveted title on February 16, by defeating Paulus Moses over 12 rounds. For the hardscrabble Beltran (who should’ve been crowned a champion back in 2013, when he was jobbed versus Ricky Burns, in Scotland, for the WBO lightweight title), it was a watershed moment.
It wasn’t all that long ago when Beltran was thought of as a tough hardnosed club-fighter and a good sparring partner. However it was believed that the highest honors in the sport would elude him.
But like Cinderella, Beltran put on boxing’s version of the glass slipper.
When asked if he thought about just how far he’s come, he told UCNLive.com, “I didn’t before and lately I’ve started feeling a little bit proud of myself, everything I’ve been through. Not just me but my team and I think we’ve done a lot. I would say that a lot of fighters in my situation, I’ve seen a lot of them quit and I feel good that I didn’t.”
As Beltran was announced as the new champion, a surreal feeling went through his body.
“I still get emotional,” admitted Beltran, 35-7-1 (21). In true fashion, his belt was hard-earned against the game Namibian. “It was a very tough fight, a very competitive fight. I felt like I won, at the end of the fight. I got the decision but, at that moment, was just like, ‘Wow, now we’re here.’ I don’t know; it’s hard to really explain. So many feelings at the same time, so many emotions.”
He soon received his championship belt (and yeah, belts absolutely matter). “Very emotional, y’ know. A lot of memories went through my head, like everything I went through…I couldn’t believe it. Again, I got emotional,” said Beltran of having the WBO hardware in his possession.
The euphoria of his victory “lasted awhile. I went back home and I looked at my kids and my wife. She struggled a lot with me; ‘Baby, we made it.'” And for Beltran and his family, it wasn’t just arriving at the destination but making the ardous journey itself. “Many times I almost quit but something inside me said, ‘Wait, just keep going,’ and I just couldn’t quit. It was many times I almost did like, ‘That’s it.'”
Yet this fighter just kept fighting on.
“The best decision that I made was not quitting,” said Beltran, who is now in a different tax bracket and in line for a possible unification tilt versus WBA champion Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year. But first he has to get past the tricky and difficult Jose Pedraza. There are pundits and insiders who are picking the Puerto Rican, who once held the IBF 130-pound title.
There is a possibility that it could ring midnight for boxing’s latest Cinderella story. The reality is that Beltran has to now get back to work and defend what he fought so long and hard for. Feel good stories in this sport are often only as good as the results in a fight.
“Yeah, now I’m back on the job,” he said, laughing. “Now I have a prize on my head. I was looking for that prize; now the other opponents are looking for me. It’s more responsibility, more pressure but we’ve done a good job in the gym and hopefully we’re going to win this fight.”
On Saturday both Carl Frampton and heavyweight Tyson Fury scored lopsided victories at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland to set up bigger fights.
With his 10-round decision over the rather non-threatening Francesco Pianeta, a showdown with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder in mid-November in Las Vegas now looms. This match-up will most likely be a better promotion than actual prizefight but it’s already creating a pretty good amount of buzz, with some of the shenanigans that took place between the two camps over the weekend. “SportsCenter” on ESPN actually led off with coverage of Fury’s victory and the announcement of the fight, after the Top Rank broadcast later that evening.
This fight for both sides makes sense, given that Wilder needs a big event while IBF/WBA/WBO titleholder Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn go to DAZN. Lets face it; everyone involved here (Wilder, Fury and promoter Frank Warren all want to stick it to Joshua and Matchroom Boxing).
What’s that old phrase about the enemy of my enemy being my friend?
Frampton stopped Luke Jackson in seven to set up a bout with newly-crowned IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington, in what should be an entertaining and spirited affair.
Yeah, Mr. Warren isn’t going gently into the night.
Saw this on YouTube and, yeah, I’ll be giving this a look-see on Showtime when it starts:
Anyone see that rather dubious stoppage by referee Allen Huggins in the Bryant Jennings-Alexander Dimitrenko fight? It’s one thing to stop a fight (that looked like Jennings was on his way to winning) but to not even start the mandatory eight-count and just wave it off. Ehhh…The next edition of “Hollywood Fight Nights” at the Avalon, in Hollywood, will take place on October 30…Welterweights Batyr Akhmedov and Shakhram Giyasov came up with solid victories over much more experienced veterans over the weekend. They will be moved quickly…Looks like junior welterweight Regis Prograis’ first round bout in the World Boxing Super Series, on October 27, will take place back at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans…Yeah, my tickets are purchased for the Miami-LSU game on Labor Day weekend at AT&T Stadium in Dallas/Arlington…”Snowfall” on FX is solid…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.