Ray Beltran perseveres
There are many athletes/boxers who claim they don’t pay attention to the media or what is said or written about them. Ray Beltran certainly isn’t one of them. Six years ago, approached this writer to give praise in regard to a story I had penned about him. Hey, compliments are always nice and even better when they come from fighters, admittedly.
It’s not that I reminded him of Shakespeare in my prose. It was that I included all his profanity (of which there was plenty) in this particular article.
(Hey; I’ll take any laudatory words that come my way. Beggars cant be choosers.)
“Oh yeah, man. I never forgot about that,” said Beltran, last week after his final day’s training at the Wild Card Boxing Club before taking off to Reno, where he’ll face Paulus Moses on Friday night on ESPN (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) for the vacant WBO lightweight title.
As I looked back at my archives, at my old place, it strikes me that, for a guy who was basically considered a club fighter and a sparring partner (most notably for Manny Pacquiao), there was a lot written about him under my byline. Back then you wrote about him as the hard-luck story that is all too often around in this sport. A hard-nosed jobber just trying to make a few bucks and maybe catch a break or two.
Yet here he is in 2018 fighting for a world title and the opportunity to parlay a major belt into some significant paydays in the future.
“Y’ know what? I knew it was going to be hard but I always believed. I believed my time was going to come later and I think that’s why we’re here. If I didn’t believe it back then, I think I would’ve stopped awhile ago,” said the 36-year-old Beltran, who, when asked if he ever contemplated walking away from the sport, admitted, “Many times, many times when I was getting fights canceled and some fights I think I can win and they took it from me.”
Back then, he was unattached to a promoter and consistently found himself as the opponent or decided B-side in most of the bouts for which he signed up. With that, he’d be on the short end of the stick of dubious decisions (which led to his frustrations and his verbal outbursts).
So what was the turning point?
After contemplating that question for a few moments, Beltran, 34-7-1 (21), stated, ”Before the fight with (Hank) Lundy. When I fought Lundy, even before that, I remember I had a conversation with one of my friends, ‘Bro, y’ know what? From now on, things are going to change.’ I just felt in in my heart. It felt different – and it was.”
That match-up took place in July of 2012 on ESPN2 and Beltran eked out a hard-earned majority decision for the NABF title. Three fights later, he was facing WBO 135-pound titlist Ricky Burns in Scotland and was the recipient of some rancid home cooking and forced to settle for a draw. But it was clear that Beltran had found himself as a fighter. To Beltran, the Lundy fight still remains the high point of his career “because it was a special moment for me. It really changed my career. That was the beginning of everything.”
Now promoted by Top Rank, he faces the aged Moses, 40-3 (25), for the WBO strap. The African is a relatively anonymous figure to most fight fans. This is his first fight off his home continent since 2012 (spanning 14 fights), since he lost to Burns. When asked to describe his upcoming foe, Beltran states, “I know he’s a former world champ. I know a little bit his style – he’s a distance fighter. That’s his best way to fight but, I mean, I don’t really worry much about my opponent. I don’t know much about him.”
(Yes, as late as May of 2010, Moses held the WBA 135-pound belt.)
Should he come out victorious as expected, Beltran – who also lost to Terence Crawford in his other title shot back in November of 2014) – will be in prime position to face fellow Top Rank stablemate WBO junior lightweight beltholder Vasyl Lomachenko.
“I was offered that fight in the past, the last fight,”said Beltran”It didn’t happen. We’re ready to fight anybody. If if happens, great. If it doesn’t, well we’re going to keep going. Right now, we’re going for the world title.”
However Beltran makes it clear, “I definitely want to fight (Lomachenko) soon.”
There had been a lot of reports about the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn/Manny Pacquiao-Mike Alvarado doubleheader taking place at the Madison Square Garden, in New York, on April 14. But it looks like that event, for whatever reason, is going west to Las Vegas.
“We’ll have an announcement on that, hopefully on Friday, “Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told UCNLive.com on Tuesday morning.
So will the two winners of this card end up facing one another in the fall?
“That’s a possibility but not necessarily,” answered Arum. “We’re going to be open with Manny. If he wins, he’s going to look to do the biggest fight possible, where he can make the most money. It’s a possibility not a fait accompli.”
Leading off this broadcast on Friday night is 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, 4-0 (2), who faces Juan Tapia, 8-1 (3).
“This is going to start the push with him and (Michael) Conlan. Conlan’s featured on the March 17th show, which should be terrific,” said Arum, of the card that will take place at the Theater at MSG. “That’s a really loaded show and, because we have ESPN, we can even get the third, fourth and fifth fight shown on television.
Moving forward, networks like ESPNews will be utilized to show the undecard bouts, as it were on February 3. “And the digital platform they’re going to roll out is really big, so we’re going to reach 7,8, 900,000 users of the digital on any fight. This is a whole thing where eventually our goal is to have eight fights on a program, every one with a big audience.”
Here’s a full, two-hour edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly. Once again, we are joined by “Mr. KO Tickets” Jim Boone.
Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions are now discussing a bout between WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares and Lomachenko but that May 12 date is very problematic for GBP, as, on that particular night, HBO will replay the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin II bout, from the week before, and air a live fight…Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas takes on David Avanesyan for the NABF welterweight title as the co-feature on ESPN…Larry “Legend” Merchant is scheduled to join Mario Lopez and me in-studio for this week’s episode of “The 3 Knockdown Rule”…”The Chi” on Showtime has been incredible in its first season…So what’s going on at the Winter Olympics? I haven’t watched a second of it…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.