Sports

Meet Ray Beltrán: At age 37, this boxer scored a major KO of previously unbeaten opponent

Raymundo Beltrán celebrates his ninth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Japanese boxer Hiroki Okada in a WBC Continental Américas and WBC Intercontinental super lightweight match at the Save Mart Center with his three children.
Raymundo Beltrán celebrates his ninth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Japanese boxer Hiroki Okada in a WBC Continental Américas and WBC Intercontinental super lightweight match at the Save Mart Center with his three children. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

There is life beyond boxing for 37-year-old Raymundo Beltrán.

Among his first priorities after scoring a dramatic, ninth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Hiroki Okada at the Save Mart Center on Feb. 10, Beltrán noted he had to focus on a quinceañera for his daughter.

In the days leading to the co-main event of an ESPN-televised boxing card that featured Avenal’s José Ramírez, Beltrán looked at boxing as something that he could use to help his family.

“I don’t think of retirement because then it would put this date on my mind,” said the Phoenix-based boxer who was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, México.

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Raymundo Beltrán knocks down Japanese boxer Hiroki Okada in the ninth round of a WBC Continental Américas and WBC Intercontinental super lightweight match. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Beltrán crossed the border without documents when he was 16 and never got legal residency. That is why boxing remains a priority at a time when most boxers have hung up their gloves.

His story is an American story.

Beltrán, who has three children, was a long-time sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao and trained under the legendary Freddie Roach.

He also captured the WBO lightweight title a year ago.

He moved up in weight to face Okada for the WBC Continental Americas and WBO Intercontinental super lightweight titles. Okada, who came in with a 19-0 record that included 13 knockouts, came in as the overwhelming favorite.

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Japanese boxer Hiroki Oakda traps Raymundo Beltrán in the corner during the second round of a WBC Continental Américas and WBC Intercontinental super lightweight match. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Beltrán, however, had other thoughts as he knocked down Okada in the second round and kept the pressure despite absorbing some hard punches throughout.

Beltrán knocked down Okada in the ninth round with a hard right, but the Japanese fighter got back into the action only to suffer more punishment until the referee signaled the end of the fight at the 2:09 mark of the round.

CompuBox showed Beltrán landed 154 of 453 total punches (34 per cent) to Okada’s 129 of 541 (24 per cent).

Beltrán, who could be a future opponent for Ramírez, improves to 36-8-1, with 24 knockouts.

Other fights

Ramírez, in perhaps a much closer bout than he expected against a southpaw opponent, survived a 12-round, majority decision against José Zepeda of La Puente to retain the WBC super lightweight title.

The televised main event averaged 655,000 viewers on a Sunday evening, and topped at 824,000 viewers during the middle rounds.

Ramírez, who is auctioning off his purple gloves and other boxing attire to benefit the fight against cancer, improved to 24-0 (16 KOs). His last four opponents have been a combined 101-1 record going into the bout against Ramírez.

Zepeda, who believes he would have gotten the momentum to beat Ramírez had the bout taken place away from the Save Mart Center and its 14,000 fans, dopped to 30-2. His only other loss came in a WBO lightlweight title bout in London against Terry Flanagan. He suffered a shoulder injury in the second round against Flanagan and couldn’t continue the fight.

Also:

▪ Fresno featherweight Isidro Ochoa improved to 7-0 (3 KOs) with a fifth-round TKO of Jesús Guzmán.

▪ Stockton lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr., who signed his professional boxing contract at age 16, scored a unanimous decision after six rounds against Alex Rynn Torres. The 18-year-old Flores improves to 12-0.

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