At the age of 36, Ray is an 18-year pro. The WBO lightweight world champion, he won the title in his last fight.
Ray was best known for several years as one of Manny Pacquiao’s main sparring partners. In September, 2013, he became 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.
In his last fight on February 16 in Reno, Nevada, Ray won the vacant WBO lightweight world title with a 12-round unanimous decision against former WBA lightweight world champion Paulus Moses.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported from ringside [excerpts]: Ray Beltran likely made two dreams come true in one fight as he claimed a vacant lightweight world title in his fourth try.
In an action-packed battle, Beltran and former world titlist Paulus Moses fought a high-intensity and competitive fight that Beltran won by scores of 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112.
At stake for Beltran was realizing the elusive dream of winning a world title in his fourth and, at age 36, probably his last chance.
More important to Beltran, a native of Mexico living with his wife and three children in Phoenix thanks to a work visa that expires in about two years, was also the chance to clear what would probably be the final hurdle to obtaining his EB-1 green card that would give him permanent resident status in the United States, a dream of his.
Beltran would qualify as an “extraordinary athlete” – one of the categories under which somebody can qualify for a green card – and his attorney had told him that by defeating Moses for the title, his green card would probably be secured.
When the fight was over and the belt was wrapped around his waist, Beltran, with a deep cut over his right eye, was near tears as he was surrounded by his children and team.
Moses did not make it easy on him. Although two of the scorecards were wide, the fight was highly competitive.
Beltran opened the fight by landing several short right hands to the head and body shots as he got off to a quick start in the first round. Moses landed a couple of solid right hands in the second round, but Beltran shrugged them off and continued to march right at him firing punches. Moses had a strong third round in which he opened a cut over Beltran’s right eye.
There was plenty of action in the fifth round when Beltran backed Moses up with a right hand and had him on the ropes before Moses rebounded to nearly drop Beltran with a right uppercut.
Beltran dabbed at the blood dripping down the right side of his face during the sixth round of an increasingly rough fight.
After the seventh round Beltran held a slim 67-66 advantage on all three scorecards, but he pulled away by winning the final five rounds on two scorecards and four of the final five rounds on the third scorecard.
Early in the ninth round Moses, who was cut over his left eye, connected with a right hand that buckled Beltran’s knees and nearly dropped him. Moments later it was a left hand that stopped a slowing Beltran in his tracks. Both fighters looked exhausted in the 10th round, but it was Beltran who landed several body shots.
Beltran continued to work the body in the 11th round against Moses, whose cut left eye was a mess and pouring blood. They concluded a very competitive fight with a fierce 12th round as they fought as though it could go either way. [End Rafael item]
Ray has now won six fights in a row, four by knockout. He won by second-round TKO against Ivan Najera in May, 2016, and returned to the ring four months later in September with a fifth-round TKO win against Miguel Mendoza. Three months after that on December 10, 2016, Ray scored a spectacular one-punch knockout against Mason Menard in the seventh round. On May 20, in an IBF final eliminator to determine the mandatory IBF lightweight world title challenger, Ray scored another devastating one-punch knockout against Jonathan Maicelo.
He 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.”
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Ray said, “I was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. I got one brother and one half-brother. My father has his own business in Mexico. He sells clothes and auto parts, stuff like that. He also has a gym at his house. It’s a small gym, nothing special. He was a professional boxer, and my uncles and cousins were pros.
“I started boxing when I was eight years old. I did a couple of amateur fights, then I retired. I came back when I was 14 or 15. I had about 30 amateur fights altogether. I got like, 27 wins and three losses.
“I was 16 when I moved to the United States. My family moved to Phoenix. I did a couple more amateur fights after I moved there. I lived in L.A. for five or six years, but now I moved back to Phoenix.
“I’m naturally right-handed. My wife’s name is Guadalupe Beltran, and we’ve got three kids, two boys and one girl. My oldest boy, Edgar, was 12 in January, and my daughter, Eden, was 13 this month. My little boy, Edwin, is seven. He was born on November 12, 2010. They give me strength. They give me more courage to fight.”…