Veteran lightweight, Ray Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) defeated Arash Usmanee (20-2-1, 10 KOs) last night to capture the NABO lightweight title at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. The bout was the featured co-main event on the undercard of Pacquiao vs. Bradley II. The event was presented by Top Rank, and televised on HBO Pay-Per-View.
The awkward style of Usmanee forced Beltran to make adjustments round by round. Usmanee was landing a few shots, but Beltran had the more effective power shots landing. Pepe Reilly and Steve Feder, working Beltran's corner could see the style of Usmanee was preventing Beltran from fighting his fight. The pure genius of Reilly and Feder tweaked Beltran's game plan by having him apply more pressure and unleashing his true power. The adjustment forced Usmanee to fight in a defensive mode, leaving him open to take some hard shots.
By the mid-rounds, it was evident that Usmanee would be no match for Beltran after taking some some brutal body shots that were beginning to take it's toll.
Fighting with tremendous heart, Usmanee would not go away, doing the best he could against a determined Beltran. Usmanee was a late replacement for Rocky Martinez, who dropped out of the fight due to an illness.
In the end, Beltran would use all twelve rounds to defeat Usmanee. The judges scored the bout 117-111, 118-110 and 117-111, giving the unanimous decision win to Beltran. After the fight, a crowd of happy fans surrounded Beltran in the hotel lobby. Beltran displayed true sportsmanship, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Not one fan was turned away or denied, simply true boxing at it's finest.
For Beltran, the win over Usmanee puts him in line for a second chance to fight for the WBO lightweight title currently held by Terence Crawford. Beltran travelled to the UK and challenged Ricky Burns last September, the WBO lightweight champion at that time, but would be robbed of a victory and fought to a split draw on a fight he clearly won. Crawford defeated Burns in March of this year to gain the title.
As a sparring partner to Manny Pacquiao for many years, Beltran obtained experience and surrounded himself with a great team. Together, they have reinvented a Ray Beltran that many had simply given up on.
Today, a humble Beltran is on the backside of his career, yet he appears better and stronger than the days of his youth. He has paid his dues and surely deserves an opportunity to fight for the WBO title. Win or lose, Beltran is an example of what boxing should be all about.