Former WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran returns to the ring
By Bill Tibbs
Former WBO lightweight world champion Ray Beltran won a word title in 2018 after 3 tries and liked the feeling of being a champion. Now, starting February 10th in Fresno California, he kicks off his run that will hopefully lead him to another world championship fight.
Rugged, former world champion Ray Beltran (35-8, 21 KO’s) will return to the ring for his first fight of 2019 when he faces off against undefeated Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13 KO’s) on the undercard of the Jose Ramirez vs. Jose Zepeda at the SaveMart Centre in Fresno, California.
Beltran held the world title for 6 months after defeating Paulus Moses in February of last year. He lost the title in his first title defense against Jose Pedraza 6-months later. The title win against Moses was his 3rd crack at a world crown, and the culmination of a dream, after turning pro 20 years ago.
Beltran’s first world title try was in September of 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland where he was the victim of a questionable, split-decision draw against then-champion Ricky Burns. Then, Terence Crawford beat him by decision him in November of 2014. Beltran then worked his way to an NABF lightweight championship before eventually getting a shot, and winning, a world title against Moses last February.
At age 37, with 2 decades in the game, Ray did briefly contemplate retirement. However, in recent interviews he expressed that he feels good and is sure that he has another title run in him.
Despite losing the title in his first title defense, Beltran feels he is still fighting well and now that he has 2 good hands he will be even better heading into 2019.
Referring to the Pedraza fight, Beltran said, “I didn’t expect to lose the title that quick and I was obviously disappointed”, he said. “My age is 37, but I don’t think I’m fighting bad”, he went on. “I think people think about my age but they don’t think about the performance. I fought Pedraza and Moses, good fights, but people don’t know, nobody knows, that I basically fought both those guys with one hand”, he said. “I’m not making excuses, but I fought both those guys with basically one hand and my main hand injured. Imagine if I fought them with 2 good hands”, he said, “Imagine if my hand’s healthy. What can I do about it?”
And, Beltran, healthy and energized, feels he is just a couple more wins from getting another title shot.
“This camp has been a great way to start my journey to another world title opportunity,” Beltran said. “If it’s at 140, then I will be a two-division world champion, and if it’s at 135, then I will be a two-time lightweight champion. I will leave that to Top Rank and my manager, Steven Feder. I made some changes and am now working with Marvin Somodio, who for many years learned from the great Freddie Roach. Marvin, and my longtime strength coach Bryan McComb, are bringing me back to the skills and basics that got me here. I’m a boxer, I’m a prizefighter, and that’s what my fans will see on February 10”, he said. “It’s all about performance, while I’m performing well I’ll get my other title shot”, he continued. “I’m not done yet, I’m not satisfied, I’ll keep pushing, I’ll become a champion again, and I really believe that