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20 NOVEMBER 2018

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Beltran Wins Vacant Lightweight Title In Reno

By Marc Livitz: “Sugar” Ray Beltran can at last call himself a champion after his unanimous decision win over Paulus Moses earned him the vacant WBO world lightweight championship at the Grand Sierra Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada. He took the best of the fighter rated second best lightweight by the WBO, who himself took part in his first contest in the United States and only the sixth overall outside of his native Namibia. For all his trouble, Beltran hopefully won his ongoing fight with the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States, as he’s currently classified as an “alien with exceptional abilities”.


Moses (40-4, 25 KO’s) moved laterally in the opening minute as Beltran looked to step closer inward. It wasn’t long until Ray was able to land his overhand right with good frequency. He connected with a couple of left hooks to the body as well. The long and lanky Moses used sporadic movement to confuse Beltran (38-7-1-1 ND, 21 KO’s), yet he would do so as he stood directly in front of the Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico native.


Ray’s left easily found its target in the second while Paulus answered with successive left jabs followed by straight rights. The right hands of Moses connected in the third, but didn’t seem to faze Beltran. Standing straight up, it appeared as though Ray was waiting until he felt he absorbed enough to his liking before he’d answer. A cut opened above his left eye before the end of the round and his corner looked to control the bleeding between periods.


The luck of Moses continued in the fourth, as he landed uppercuts and a few jabs. Ray finally answered in the closing minute. A left hook to the chin backed Paulus up and delighted the crowd. Early in the fifth, Moses moved in too close to land his jab and paid for it. As before, a hard, overhand right from Beltran got his attention all the way to the ropes. Later on, a short right uppercut from Moses briefly staggered his opponent.


As the midway point of the bout was underway, Paulus found success with his left hook over the guard of Beltran, who was trying to protect his damaged right eye. Ray continued to look for the one-shot answer. The pattern continued in the seventh, as Beltran’s eye bled and Moses snapped his jab. He was beginning to get the better of the crowd favorite who now calls Phoenix, Arizona home.


Matters moved closer inward in the eighth. With their combined ages at 75, the clear difference between the two men was that Paulus liked to stick and move, while Raymundo sought out the one or two hard shots to end the night. A hard right from Moses buckled the knees of Beltran in the initial seconds of round nine. He recovered from the punch almost immediately. He threw hard rights at his Namibian opponent, who answered with rights of his own. The left eye of Moses showed signs of a cut. The best seemed yet to follow.


Paulus Moses continued to fire high, while Ray Beltran stuck to his strategy of lefts to the body and overhand rights to the head. Both men appeared beyond fatigued, yet it was Beltran who finally looked to take the initiative to close the show. He threw all his African opponent could handle in the form of bodywork and the occasional head shot.


Ten rounds were in the bag. Moses refused to back down in his quest to become the oldest lightweight champion in boxing history. Ray fired away with more and more body shots in the eleventh. Paulus couldn’t manage to keep his left foot on the outside, which allowed Beltran to throw the right hook to the body. Ray’s face was a bloody mess as he took his final break of the night.


A sign of mutual respect and admiration from the two combatants signified the twelfth and final round. The bout was indeed a close one and each fighter knew the last period could be a difference maker. Ray tried, as before to land the last shot of the night, yet Paulus was content to tie up whenever he got the chance. The bell rang to end an absolutely great fight to witness, yet the judges would ultimately have to choose a victor.


Eric Cheek saw the contest at 116-112, while Burt Clements scored it 117-111, as did Don Trella to award the vacant WBO lightweight title to “Sugar” Ray Beltran.


“I worked so hard for this”, said the victorious Beltran after the fight. “This belt means so much to me. I had to keep pushing myself against such a great opponent. I had to use my jab more often. His style was very defensive and he blocked very well, but this was a great fight. He had a very good jab.”

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