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Ray Beltran: "I don't want to hate boxing"

(Ray Beltran - Manny Pacquiao)
(Ray Beltran - Manny Pacquiao)

By Anson Wainwright


On the night of the 27th July, Ray Beltran entered the ring at the Resorts Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States, where he met rising contender Hank Lundy on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.” Going in, Beltran was expected to be game and put up a sterling effort before ultimately losing to Lundy, who was performing in his home region and on a title charge. Over the past year, Beltran (nicknamed “Sugar”) had lost razor-thin decisions to a pair of unbeaten prospects, Sharif Bogere and Luis Ramos Jnr., in fights many believed he deserved to win. It lead the 31-year-old to contemplate his future in the game. He knew the Lundy fight presented a great opportunity and he wasn’t going to waste it, upping his record to 26-6 (17) with a majority decision to claim the NABF lightweight title in the process. It’s tough not to be happy for Beltran, who has been on the wrong side of these sorts of decisions in previous fights. While the win didn’t do much for him in terms of his rankings among the sanctioning bodies, bizarrely, he’s still behind Hank Lundy (ranked fifth) in the WBC lightweight rankings at nine (something that rankles him, obviously). He currently occupies the number 10 slot with The Ring magazine.
 
AW - You return to action on Thursday in Las Vegas, meeting Ji-Hoon Kim. What are your thoughts on that fight and your opponent?

RB – Well, I think it’s a risky fight like any fight. He’s a very tough guy; there’s going to be a lot of action. He’s not the kind of guy who’ll be running around. He’s going to be there for me; he comes to fight. I’m preparing very hard for the fight.
 
AW - Back in the summer, you beat Hank Lundy. Can you talk us through the fight and how you felt it went?
 
RB - You know what? I don’t know why people were surprised about me winning the fight. If you think about the two loses with Ramos and Bogere, I felt like I won these fights. It’s not that I lost; if they think of that as a loss, they didn’t see the fight. I think I won the fights just because I didn’t get the decision. I never doubted my skills; I believe in myself, even if it’s a hard fight. I want hard fights because I want to prove that I’m capable to win and be a champion. To me, it wasn’t a surprise; I knew I could beat Lundy. I was just so happy they gave me the decision. There’s a difference when you lose and when you get robbed. I haven’t lost.
 
AW - When it went to the scorecards, were you worried that in Lundy’s home region that you’d not get the decision?
 
RB - I stopped believing in boxing. I’ve been the underdog; I’ve been on the wrong side of the decisions. When you go to the other guy’s backyard, the other guy’s promotion, so many politics involved; they have big plans. I knew I won but when you don’t believe in boxing no more, it’s like I’m going to get robbed again. It’s not I didn’t think I won; I won the fight and when they gave me the decision, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Wow, finally I got a fair decision.’ It happens so much in boxing; you stop being disappointed. But God is great.
 
AW - It had been said that if you hadn’t beaten Lundy, you would contemplate retiring from boxing. Do you think that pressure inspired you?
 
RB – Well, maybe it did. I made some adjustments from the Ramos and Bogere fights, even though I believe I won those fights. I made some mistakes; I could do better. I let the game get into my head but this time I said, ‘You know what? If I don’t win this fight or they don’t give me the decision in this fight, that’s it. I’m done.’ ‘Cause I wasn’t going to play the role of steppingstone for nobody. I respect myself and I don’t want to lose my dignity. I won’t let anyone use me and the thing is, I don’t want to hate boxing. I didn’t want to live like that. I want to be in boxing but I want to be happy and enjoy it.
 
AW - You train at the Wild Card and have been a regular in Manny Pacquiao’s camps over the past few years. Can you tell us about this experience?
 
RB – Well, to me, it’s like when I was a child, I thought of [Julio Cesar] Chavez [Snr.], Ray Leonard, they were my idols from another era. I never thought I’d train with one of the greats for such a long time and be the main sparring partner. It’s a dream come true. I think it helps my career too, get my name out there. To me, it’s one of the best things in my life. He’s a great guy; I’m just lucky and blessed. To me, when I talk about Manny, he’s a role model as a champion, as a person. I respect him a lot; he’s a great guy, very humble guy. He does a lot of things. To me, it’s hard to pick one. He cares for my family and he doesn’t need to do that.
 
AW -  As well as Pacquiao, there are other top fighters who work out of the Wild Card like Paulie Malignaggi, Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr., Peter Quillin, Brian Viloria,  Jorge Linares, etc. Could you tell us about those experiences?
 
RB - To me, I can be like them, be one of the top guys. In my case, I haven’t been with the right people to put myself up there. I think I’m a good fighter; I just need the opportunity to prove it. They’re great guys. I work with them; I hang out with them. They inspire me to be like them.
 
AW - Many observers thought you beat both Sharif Bogere and Luis Ramos Jnr. What are your thoughts looking back?
 
RB - It’s not their faults. They’re fighters; they follow their dreams the same way I do. They just been with the right people who manipulate the business. They didn’t beat me; they were with the right managers, people with influence. All they have to do is get the decision. It doesn’t mean they’re better fighters than me. Nobody made me; I made my own way. I opened my own doors; nobody opened the door for me. They gave me nothing. That makes me stronger, more aggressive; that makes me a better fighter. I’m the kind of person - the more I struggle, the harder I try. I’ve no personal problem with them; it’s just business.
 
AW - You were born in Los Mochis, Mexico, a known boxing hotbed. Could you tell us about your younger days and what it was like for you growing up there?
 
RB - I grew up with Montiels, Arces fighting in the tournaments. It was my hometown; I love my country. I know all the champions there right now; we grew up together. I’m happy these guys are representing my town. I want to be one of them; that’s why I’m working hard. I live in the U.S. right now; it’s my second home. The situation’s hard back home. I wish I could live there but I can’t anymore. It’s a better economy here; my kids have a better future here, so I stay here.
 
AW - How did you first become interested in boxing?
 
RB - My family, my dad was a boxer, uncles, my cousins. I came from a family of boxers. I started when I was 14, then I moved to the U.S. when I was 16. I made some tournaments. I’ve been the underdog my whole life. Then I couldn’t go to the Olympics because I was illegal. I went pro when I was 18; I moved to Phoenix and then L.A.
 
AW - What do you enjoy doing away from boxing? Tell us about your family, hobbies and interests.
 
RB - I love boxing. I love the sport; I just don’t like the business. I like to spend time with my kids, my wife, my friends. I’m picky on choosing the right people. I like to keep it real. I just enjoy being with my family, take them out. I spend a lot of time with my kids because some day, they’ll grow up and be away from me. I’m a family guy; I don’t like to party.
 
AW - Outside of boxing, many people see the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather and presume boxers don’t have to work day jobs. Do you now or have you during your career worked a job as well as boxed? If so, what was it?
 
RB - I started working since I was five years old. I’ve been working my whole life. I’ve had a lot of jobs; I’ve been in construction, worked the fields, worked doing anything. I’m lucky I have a friend, Ismael Vargas, outside boxing. He’s like an older brother; he takes care of me. Right now, I do personal training on the side. Before that, I did construction, worked in a restaurant, everything.
 
AW – Finally, do you have a message for the lightweight division?
 
RB - What I want to say, I’ve worked hard [Adrien] Broner, [Antonio] DeMarco, [Miguel] Vazquez, Ricky Burns - anybody out there - if you guys call yourself real champions, fight real challengers. I’m a real fighter. Hank Lundy was supposed to fight Broner; he was [the WBC’s] number one [contender]. I beat him but I don’t know how he’s still [ranked] above me; it’s ridiculous. I don’t know how it is; that’s why I say I don’t like the business but, hey, it is what it is. I’m still fighting; I’m going to take the title from them. I’m going to do my best December 6. God bless.
 
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright. Anson is also a member of The Ring magazine’s ratings panel.
 
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