At the age of 35, Ray is a 17-year pro. A veteran contender at 135 pounds, he was best known for several years as one of Manny Pacquiao’s main sparring partners.
In September, 2013, he became even better known as an “uncrowned champion” – in a challenge against WBO lightweight world champion Ricky Burns in Burns’ home country of Scotland, Ray dominated the fight and appeared to clearly win. He also broke Burns’ jaw in the second round and scored a knockdown in the eighth round, but the judges scored a 12-round draw and Burns retained the title.
Ray fought three times in 2016, and all three fights ended in impressive knockout wins. The most impressive of them all came on December 10 in Omaha, Nebraska – a spectacular one-punch knockout against Mason Menard in the seventh round.
In his last fight on May 20 in New York – an IBF final eliminator to determine the mandatory lightweight world title challenger, and the co-featured bout with the Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz main event in the main arena at Madison Square Garden – Ray scored a devastating one-punch knockout against Jonathan Maicelo.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported [excerpts]: Knockout of the year alert! Beltran, a Mexico native fighting out of Phoenix, may have earned his green card with this sensational KO of Maicelo.
With the win, Beltran moved into position to become the mandatory challenger for [the IBF] titleholder and he did it in crushing fashion. Beltran annihilated Maicelo with a left hook flush on the chin for his fourth KO in a row. [End Rafael item]
The Ring’s Mike Coppinger reported from ringside [excerpts]: Beltran was told by immigration lawyers that he badly needed a victory to strengthen his case for a green card, or risk deportation to Mexico.
The law states that an athlete must possess special skills in order to obtain one, and with a win in the IBF lightweight title eliminator, Beltran is in line to face the winner of the Robert Easter–Denis Shafikov contest set for June 30.
Maicelo had knocked Raymundo Beltran down in Round 1 and had his foe eating a volley of shots in the second, when suddenly – swiftly – the fight was over.
Beltran struck his foe with a picture-perfect counter left hook that ended matters at 1:25 of Round 2. [The] referee halted the contest immediately without a count.
That’s now two consecutive statement victories by Beltran….
Maicelo was coming off an impressive victory … but it’s Beltran who appears to still be improving at age 35.
Beltran has had two cracks at the title … but just maybe, the third time’s the charm. [End Coppinger item]
Ray was considered a top prospect early in his career, managed and trained by Emanuel Steward. Regarding those early days, he said, “I was in Detroit with Emanuel Steward for a couple of years in 2001 and 2002. He used to be my manager. I started as a pro in Phoenix and after five or six fights, I went to Detroit. Emanuel gave me that name – ‘Sugar.’ I don’t really like it. It’s too big to carry that name.”