You Can Call Me Ray

By Marc Livitz on February 18, 2018
You Can Call Me Ray
Beltran was finally able to call himself a world champion with his win over Paulus Moses.

All he could hope for in order to keep himself and his family in his adopted hometown was quite the simple assignment. Just win…

Dulce como el azucar. In English, that’s ‘sweet as sugar.’ As fans, we often watch the rise of certain fighters who have the ability to catch our attention for the best reasons. Conversely, the fall happens considerably quicker, which is when many abandon ship for warmer waters. Raymundo Beltran has always been a fan’s fighter and better yet, a fighter’s fighter. After nearly nine years in the boxing game, “Sugar” Ray is now, as in finally, a world champion. On Friday night at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada, the same city which hosted one of the most socially significant bouts in the sport’s history in 1910, Beltran topped Paulus Moses for the vacant WBO world lightweight title.

Of course, it’s a painful and unwarranted stretch to draw parallels between Beltran and one of the greatest heavyweights ever, Jack Johnson. However, each man, albeit to a much different degree, had to give his all in order to keep the U.S. government at bay. Johnson, as we know, was the victim of disgusting, racist views by many who simply didn’t want a black man to succeed at, well, anything in life. The sight of someone with cash, cars and the various spoils of victory by someone like him was judged to be inferior by those in charge at a time remains one of the most shameful aspects of American history. Ray Beltran’s problem is considerably different, yet still difficult to understand, especially in the 21st century.

The ill will thrown at immigrants in the United States is often unfair. Not all try to assimilate into society, yet there are many who do. Raymundo Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KO’s) falls into the class of the latter. A native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, he’s fought all but six of his 43 professional fights in the U.S. since joining the ranks in 1999. Currently, Beltran’s work visa is set to expire in around two years. One of the ways he may be able to legally remain in the United States is with a special classification, particularly that of an ‘extraordinary athlete.’ A green card which could grant him residency is hopefully all the more in his reach after gaining the status of a world champion, specifically the WBO world lightweight champion. Although this point is for another day as well as platform, it could be quite difficult to see why so many who seek a better life in the United States and are willing to do the work that most refuse aren’t seen as extraordinary in their own right.

All Raymundo could hope for in order to keep himself and his family in his adopted hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, was quite the simple assignment. Win. Just win. After years of serving as a sparring partner for such fighters as Manny Pacquiao, Beltran finally earned the belt which had eluded him for a few years.

Prior to last Friday, he’d gone after the WBO crown twice. Back in September of 2013, Ray accepted the challenge of fighting in a boxer’s home country. He took on then-champion Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland. In close and competitive contest, Beltran scored a knockdown in the form of an eight-count in round eight, yet the fact that he broke Burns’s jaw early in the bout was the most notable memory that night. Still, the belt was not to be his that Scottish evening, as the contest was declared a draw. Burns kept the title, yet he lost it to Terence Crawford six months later. Two fights later, Crawford was simply too much for Beltran. Ray lost a unanimous decision.

The night before the ‘biggest’ bout in boxing history took place in Las Vegas in early May 2015, Beltran got his second shot at the WBO world lightweight title after Crawford moved up in weight. At the Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Strip, Ray effectively pummeled Takahiro Ao over one round and half that Friday evening, yet he’d failed to make the weight limit prior to the contest. The victory was changed to a ‘no decision’ shortly thereafter due to Beltran testing positive for banned substances. The wait would continue.

Sometime last year, the all elusive WBO lightweight strap was once again made available after Englishman Terry Flanagan decided to make the jump to super lightweight. For what would be the third time as well as the charm, Ray Beltran was finally able to call himself a world champion with his win over Paulus Moses.

Where will he go from here? No one knows at this time. In many ways, he has nothing left to prove. He’ll turn 37 in August and he’s been in more than just his fair share of ring wars. In any case, this writer salutes his efforts. We need more guys like him.

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Ray Beltran gives it his all to beat Paulus Moses in world title fight | ESPN

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