Ray Beltran and Jonathan Maicelo to fight in title eliminator


Opening the HBO broadcast this Saturday night from the Madison Square Garden in New York City is a lightweight contest between Ray Beltran and Jonathan Maicelo – and much is at stake here. The winner is guaranteed a title shot, albeit when we’re not quite certain. The IBF has decreed that the winner of the June 30 bout between its lightweight beltholder Robert Easter Jr. and Denis Shafikov, must square off against the winner of Beltran-Maicelo.


Say what you will about the IBF and its past (and there’s certainly a lot that can be said about former President Bob Lee’s “leadership”) but this organization is one that is a stickler to its rules and regulations (sometimes to its own detriment).


Beltran, who has evolved into a solid prizefighter, is exactly the type of fighter who is absolutely thankful that there are multiple sanctioning bodies. Yes, there are those out there who believe that going back to a system in which one champion ruled would be ideal. This is great, in theory, but the reality is today’s game sees fighters perform so infrequently and the business itself is so fractured that many fighters would be frozen out of the picture for not being aligned with certain entities.


Yeah, it’s great to romanticize the “olden days” but looking at things pragmatically, boxers like Beltran need organizations like the IBF and the structure they provide, at times.


“Well, he certainly does and a lot of fighters fall into that category. Maicelo is one of them,” says Carl Moretti, the Vice President of Boxing Operations for Top Rank Inc., who helped put this fight together. “These are guys who aren’t going to be offered a title fight, for the most part, because it’s high-risk and low-reward. So, with that being the case, you have to push fighters as far as you can and as high as you can in the respective rankings.”


Currently Shafikov (who earned this title shot by defeating the tough Richard Commey back in December) is rated No. 1 by the IBF. Beltran is currently rated third, Maicelo seventh.


Years ago, Beltran was basically a journeyman who gained acclaim as a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao and, through years of hard work and experience, has forged himself into a legitimate contender. But with a record of 32-7-1 (20), that doesn’t tell you the whole story. He isn’t exactly the type of guys beltholders are willing to face so readily unless they are the quality of current WBC/WBO junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who defeated him in 2014, in defense of the WBO lightweight title.


Ask Ricky Burns – who was very fortunate to retain his WBO 135-pound belt in 2013 versus Beltran – if he’s an easy out.


When asked how difficult it is to land fights for Beltran against names of significance, Moretti told UCNLive.com, “It’s not easy; let’s just say that. Maicelo, to his credit realizes it’s an opportunity in itself. You’re going to be seen by a lot of people. I’ve got to believe Maicelo looks at it as the same opportunity that Beltran has. They’re all trying to get a title fight. When kids go to the gym everyday and train, what’s the first thing they say? ‘I want to become a world champion.’ Well, it’s not that easy, so you have to go through these steps to get there.”


Currently, there are four major belts that are recognized, the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO, which may rankle purists but till you get back to a time and place when world-class boxers fight much more often, this current system creates opportunities for fighters who otherwise may not get them.


“Right now we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve accepted four sanctioning organizations and you have to play within the rules. So you do the best you can with the guys – like a Ray Beltran or Jonathan Maicelo – and you can go through any division with any fighter who’s high-risk and low-reward. You’ve gotta earn your shot as a mandatory,” said Moretti.


This system is not without flaws. Sometimes you get some head-scratching mandatory challengers and fulfilling them could hold up the process of making more meaningful bouts. And then you have the WBA with its multiple champions per division. Again, it’s not perfect but it beats the alternative – fighters being avoided or sidelined as they wait for title shots.


So do four major belts make the right number?


“Well, I’d like 20,”cracked Moretti (and we think he’s joking). “If there were a little more frequency or structure to the whole business, then maybe you could get away with less organizations. I support all the organizations. I don’t look at them as a detriment to the sport. But what happens if you get stuck with mandatories with fighters that aren’t necessarily deserving of a mandatory or put in for rematches? Then it could set it back a little bit.”





It was formally announced on Wednesday that an HBO tripleheader will be headlined by a main event featuring WBC 130-pound titlist Miguel Berchelt against Takashi Miura, supported by a light heavyweight slugfest between Joe Smith Jr. and Sullivan Barrera and WBA super featherweight titlist Jezreel Corrales taking on Robinson Castellanos.


This show, which is being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, will take place at the Forum (and is priced to sell, with tickets ranging from $25-to-$125 for ringside seats). Originally, Golden Boy inquired about the StubHub Center in Carson.


“The StubHub Center was not available. We tried but we were told there’s going to be another boxing event a week later. So it wasn’t available so we ended up at the Forum,” explained Eric Gomez, the president of GBP. Word is the July 22 date is being held for WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia.


This is a fight fan’s card, one that should provide a good night of entertainment. And it’s a show that involves multiple promoters.


“That’s been our model, (Golden Boy CEO) Oscar (De La Hoya)’s model since Oscar took over the company and he’s been at the helm. He’s willing to work with everybody and make the best fights and we’ve been doing it for going on the last three years now and we’re going to continue to do it,” stated Gomez.


“If there’s a great opportunity for one of our fighters, we’re going to explore it and, look, we get along with everybody and we just want to put the best product out there.”





Here’s this week’s edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and me (a full two-hour edition).





Mario Lopez and I discuss boxing and other things on this episode of “The 3 Knockdown Rule.”





Also on the non-televised portion of the undercard at the Garden (which can be streamed at TopRank.tv) are Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez (who I’m very high on)…“Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” returns tonight from Casino Del Sol, in Tuscon, Arizona, as Diego De La Hoya takes on Erik Ruiz (10 p.m., ET)…Speaking of that series, on June 17, a bout between Pablo Cesar Cano and Fidel Maldonado Jr. will headline from Frisco, Texas on ESPN2. The semi-main that night will see super flyweight Joshua Franco facing Oscar Mojica…Cavs-Celtics is a Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks-type blowout…Tickets for the card on July 15th go on sale next Wednesday. Can’t wait for this card and to go to the Sizzler on Manchester Blvd….I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com 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.





Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,