Ray Beltran and Isaac Dogboe to bring fireworks to Phoenix on August 25


On Saturday night, Raymundo Beltran will attempt to make the first successful defense of his WBO lightweight title against former IBF junior lightweight beltholder Jose Pedraza, at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona (ESPN, 10:30 p.m./7:30 p.m.).


The Top Rank card will also see exciting Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe, of Accra, Ghana, 19-0 (13) defending his WBO junior featherweight title against Hidenori Otake, 31-2-3 (14).


Beltran, who lives just down the road in Phoenix, is excited to get a home gig. He is enjoying his status as a world champion, at age 37, and hopes that an impressive win will lead to a December unification bout against the vastly talented WBA champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.


Beltran, 35-7-1 (21), gutted out a unanimous decision win against Paulus Moses for the vacant WBO lightweight belt last February. Beltran, who has come a long way from his days as being Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner, knows a high-profile Lomachenko bout awaits the winner of this fight.


Beltran has a difficult task in front of him in facing Pedraza, who only has one loss in his career, that being a stoppage at the hands of Gervonta Davis, in January of last year, for Pedraza’s IBF junior lightweight title.


In a pre-fight interview, Pedraza made it clear that he plans on bringing home the WBO lightweight title to Puerto Rico.


“I feel very motivated and I know I will have a great fight against Ray Beltran. He is a strong fighter who always leaves everything in the ring and battled for a long time until becoming a world champion. I know that this will be a classic war between Mexico and Puerto Rico,” said Pedraza.


“Fans can expect a great victory from myself. I am focused on my career and on this fight. On August 25th, Puerto Rico will have a new world champion. Beltran is a veteran and is finally a world champion after trying for so long. I think, for that reason, it’s going to be a great fight because he will not want to lose the title. I’m 100 percent prepared for war.”


However Beltran, who secured his world title, after his fourth trip to the plate, isn’t about to let it slip away that easily.


“I’m living the dream,” said Beltran. “It feels great to be defending my world title and it also feels great because I will be defending it in my adopted home. Pedraza is a very skillful fighter and is going to bring his best to take the belt from us but I’m not just fighting for the belt. I’m also fighting to keep it in Phoenix and my birthplace of Los Mochis, Mexico. This belt represents my family’s future and it’s going nowhere.”



Isaac Dogboe vs. Hidenori Otake



Isaac Dogboe burst onto the international scene when he stopped rugged Mexican Cesar Juarez last January, in Accra, Ghana, to win the interim WBO junior featherweight title.


Then to prove it wasn’t just a hometown win, he strolled into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April and KO’d favored WBO full titlist Jessie Magdaleno in another impressive performance.


Now Dogboe will step into the ring for the third time this year, on August 25, when he makes the first defense of his title against Hidenori Otake.


While Dogboe isn’t looking past Otake, he is also very excited to line up some unification work in the division and knows he needs to keep the wins rolling for that to happen.


“He hasn’t lost in four years; five of (those) fights have come by way of knockout,” Dogboe said of Otake, “but everything is going great. We are not taking him lightly.”


There are some great unification fights for Dogboe at 122 pounds. including WBC champ Rey Vargas, WBA boss Danny Roman and new IBF champion TJ Doheny.


However if Dogboe hopes to secure these big fights, he knows negotiation starts with a victory on August 25.


“Otake is a strong, credible fighter,” said Dogboe. “He stands in the way of me having my unification fights with other world champions. Regardless of what comes up, we will get through it and come out with a victory. Come August 25, we will be out there to set Arizona ablaze.”




Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.




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