Ray Beltran loses a tough one to Jose Pedraza
Former WBO lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran, 35-8-1 (21), got to play a rare home game last Saturday night, in Glendale, Arizona, just down the road from his home in Phoenix.
Beltran was defending his world title against tough challenger Jose Pedraza, 25-1 (12).
The Pedraza-Beltran fight was the main event of a Top Rank card that also saw WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe make the first defense of his title, drilling Japan’s Hidenori Otake in an impressive first round KO.
Beltan, a native of Mexico, who has lived with his family in Arizona for years, was excited to clock into work in front of family and friends.
It was a tough night for the popular Beltran, who won the 135-pound title back in February. The winner was going to be awarded a December bout with WBA champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, whom many consider one of the very best fighters in the world, in a lightweight unification fight.
Top Rank expects to officially announce and confirm the Lomachenko-Pedraza bout any day now.
Lomachenko, who won a world title in his second professional fight and has three world titles hanging in his trophy case after only 12 bouts as a professional, is a decided favorite going into a bout with Pedraza or most anyone else, for that matter.
Saturday night, Beltran tried to summon up every bit of guts, guile and aggression (that will be the legacy of his impressive career) he had to fend off the gritty challenge of Pedraza but, in the end, he didn’t have it.
It seemed that 44 bouts and 19 years may have caught up with the former champ, who had challenged for world titles on three other occasions in his career. However for most of the second half of the bout, Beltran struggled to mount any effective offense, once he worked his way into punching range against the quicker, more elusive Pedraza.
Credit to Pedraza, who worked off a fast, accurate jab and outworked Beltran in close quarters thoughout much of the fight. The new champion sealed the deal with an 11th round knockdown off a perfectly-timed left uppercut.
As frustrating for Beltran as the loss of his title was the loss of the shot at Lomachenko in New York and the career high payday that would have come with it.
After the bout, Beltran showed a lot of respect to Pedraza, something evident all week throughout the press and build-up to the bout.
“The knockdown made the difference. I got caught with a really good shot,” said Beltran. “Pedraza fought a great fight, all the respect to him.”
Beltran, who garnered all of boxing’s respect with his outstanding efforts in bouts against Terence Crawford, Hank Lundy and Ricky Burns, over the last two decades, is close to closing out his career (regardless of what the outcome would have been on Saturday night).
However after the fight, the former champion seemed unsure of his next move.
“I’m not sure what is next,” he said. ‘I’m not sure what I am going to do. I have to take some time and think about things and decide what is next.”