Ray Beltran, Paulus Moses to battle for WBO lightweight title on Feb. 16 on ESPN
Ray Beltran’s first two titles attempts were unsuccessful, but there’s a lot more riding on his third one.
That’s because Beltran is preparing to apply for a EB-1 green card, and to do so as a world champion would greatly strengthen his chances of approval.
He’ll fight for the WBO vacant lightweight title against Paulus Moses on February 16 in Reno, Nevada, on ESPN, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told RingTV.com. Top Rank is still working on the co-feature, but it won’t be the light heavyweight title eliminator between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Eleider Alvarez.
Arum said they hoped to place that fight on the telecast, but that it’s likely the deal wouldn’t be completed in time.
The title became available after Terry Flanagan vacated to move up to 140 pounds.
Beltran (34-7-1, 21 knockouts) challenged Ricky Burns for a lightweight title in September 2013, but was held to a disputed draw against Ricky Burns in Scotland. More than a year later, Beltran faced a far stiffer test for his second title shot, and he was unable to compete with Terence Crawford.
The third shot comes against Moses, a 39-year-old from Namibia. He held a 135-pound title after travelling to Japan in 2009 with a victory over Yusuke Kobori and made one successful defense, but lost it the following year in a sixth-round knockout loss to Miguel Acosta.
Moses (40-3, 25 KOs) rebounded with a string of wins in Namibia, but challenged Burns in 2012 and was unsuccessful. He’s fought exclusively in his homeland since that March 2012 defeat, and now he’s ready for his American debut.
Moses actually accompanied training mate Julius Indongo to Nebraska for his title unification fight with Crawford in August, but when he returns, it will be for his own title shot.
This event is about Beltran, though, who will be headlining for the first time on promoter Top Rank’s ESPN series.
And Beltran knows: win a title and he can secure his future in America.
“It’s a weight on my shoulders,” Beltran, THE RING’S No. 3 lightweight, said last year. “I know once I don’t have a visa, it’s a lot of risk because if I got pulled over; if I’m not having a good day, police could call Immigration.”
At 36 years old, Beltran is unlikely to fight too much longer, and the visa is set to expire in about two years.
He could, conceivably, realize two dreams in one night, and it’s Moses who stands in his way.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger