Monday, January 30, 2023  |



Raymundo Beltran eyes RING lightweight title vs. Terence Crawford


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After scoring a one-sided unanimous decision over Arash Usmanee in April, lightweight Raymundo Beltran set his sights on WBO titleholder Terence Crawford, the man with whom he shared a common opponent in Ricky Burns.

In September 2013 in Burns’ native Glasgow, Scotland, Beltran floored the hometown hero in the eighth round of a controversial draw. Although Burns retained his WBO belt, his jaw was badly broken against Beltran, requiring the surgical implantation of titanium plates.

Burns returned to his home turf in Glasgow for his next bout in March, in which he was dethroned via unanimous decision by Crawford, ending Burns’ streak of five consecutive lightweight title defenses.

On Saturday, Crawford (24-0, 17 knockouts) will make the second defense of his title against Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) before his hometown fans at the CenturyLink Arena, in his native Omaha, Neb.

In facing Beltran at CenturyLink, Crawford is returning to the site where he scored his come-from-behind, ninth-round technical knockout victory over former featherweight beltholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, a previously unbeaten fighter, in June.

Crawford-Gamboa was contested before an audience of 10,943.

With Crawford being THE RING’s No. 1-rated lightweight and Beltran, THE RING’s No. 2-rated 135-pounder, their clash will crown the winner as THE RING champion in his weight class.

A 33-year-old who is 4-0-1 in his past five fights, Beltran has called the bout with Crawford “my moment.”

“If I win, I will be put up on top of the division and also, not only that, but it really, really makes my dream come true,” said Beltran, in part. “It’s always been about that RING magazine belt because once you get that belt, you really get that real respect from the rest of the boxing world.”

Beltran shared his thoughts on the fight with in the following Q&A. Does it mean anything more to you that this fight with Crawford is for THE RING lightweight championship?

RB: Of course, you know? Of course. Definitely. That means that if I win, I will be put up on top of the division and also, not only that, but it really, really makes my dream come true.

That’s because I’ve always dreamed about that belt more than any other belt. So it’s always been about that RING magazine belt because once you get that belt, you really get that real respect from the rest of the boxing world. Is Crawford wearing the belt that belongs to you?

RB: It should be mine but it’s not. I’m more focused on the fight that’s in front of me right now, so what happened in the past is in the past and they didn’t give me the [WBO] belt.

That’s already in the past, so, right now, it’s about what’s going to happen on Saturday night. So I’m more focused on that night. But I’m focused on getting what truly belongs to me, and to really get it, and that’s the belt.

I want to prove who the real champion should be and I’m going into this fight with the mentality of that champion, you know? I’m looking forward to it. But it’s not only about the belt because it’s also about the fact that Terence Crawford is a great fighter.

This can be a great fight, so I’m looking to get the credit for being a great fighter as well. I mean, I’m really looking forward to getting some real credibility as the champion from those in the world. How much did your fight with Burns take out of him in advance of his next tough fight with Crawford?

RB: I believe that it really took something out of him because, when you have a broken jaw and then you have to fight, right away, mentally, in the back of your head, you’re not going to be that that comfortable, you know?

You’ve got to be thinking that it might break up again, you know? So I think that I really took a lot out of him. I mean, I’m not looking to take any credit away from Terence Crawford because I still believe that he could have beaten Burns.

But I definitely think that I took a lot out Burns and that it really bothered him because the broken jaw thing, that has happened to me. I’ve had a broken jaw twice and that took me a while to mentally recover from that and to become comfortable and for me not to worry about that anymore. After which fight did you suffer from a broken jaw?

RB: I think that it was in 2003 or 2004 [Writer’s note: It was actually May 2001] when I fought Steven Trumble [a fourth-round knockout loss.] It was something like that.

I’ve also gotten my jaw broken in the gym once and that really bothered me. It has happened twice and that really takes time for you to recover from mentally. It just takes time. Do you agree with Crawford that your size, strength and defense are among the differences between you and Gamboa?

RB: I think that Gamboa exposed himself too much in his fight with Crawford. He would throw combinations and leave his chin out there to be hit and he was right there.

So it’s all about timing and getting in a good punch. Also, Gamboa doesn’t have a really good chin, so it was all about how Crawford was able to time him and to hurt him. Gamboa exposed himself too much.

I mean, he did a really good job but, overall, I just don’t think that he was prepared for Crawford. I think that I’m bigger and stronger than Gamboa and that I punch harder. I think that I’m also smarter than Gamboa.

I’m not going to just go in there and throw punches like a kid, you know, and leave my chin open, especially with a very smart fighter and counterpuncher like Crawford. I’m going to stick to my own game plan in there and not get desperate. Do you have a prediction?

RB: My prediction is that I will get a victory, whether by knockout or decision; it doesn’t matter. I’m ready for 12 rounds but if the knockout comes before, well, then we’ll take it. But I’m ready to go 12 hard rounds.


Video by Dominic Verdin