By: Ste Rowen
Ray Beltran vs. Jose Pedraza Preview
On Saturday night at the Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ray Beltran, 35-7-1 (21KOs), makes the first defence of his WBO lightweight title when he takes on former IBF super-featherweight champion, Jose Pedraza.
The Mexican will be hoping to extend his hot streak to 7 victories since his last official loss, when he was taken to school over 12 rounds by a, 24-0, Terence Crawford. The 37-year-old has rebuilt himself since that loss, and the immediate bout that followed; an overturned TKO win over Takahiro Ao, ruled a non-decision due to a failed drug test by Beltran.
Four straight stoppages and a majority decision over Bryan Vasquez led to a February 2018 showdown with Paulus Moses, then 40-3 (25KOs) for the bronze belt, thanks to Terry Flanagan vacating the WBO strap to move up a weight class.
Beltran handily dealt with his Namibian foe, winning a unanimous decision in Reno by consistently beating Moses to the punch. Raymundo was willing, and able to go toe-to-toe with Paulus throughout the 12 rounds, and although Paulus had his bright moments, the Mexican was not to be denied and he obtained world honours, on his 4th attempt.
‘‘This belt represents my family’s future and it’s going nowhere.’’ The Mexican told ‘ESPN’ last month. ‘‘I am very motivated to defend my title and it’s very special to me because I’m fighting in my adopted home. Pedraza is a very skilful fighter and is going to bring his best to take the belt from us.’’
Raymundo also has future plans for unification and is hoping to add another top 10 pound-for-pound fighter to his resume. Speaking to ‘FightHype’ he said,
‘‘I’ve got my own conclusions about Lomachenko’s style. I think I have the advantage of the size and strength…Another thing is that Lomachenko stays in the pocket. He comes and stays close, he gets hit…I’ve got enough power to hurt him.’’
‘Sugar Ray’ Beltran isn’t the only one eyeing up a future bout with the WBA and Ring lightweight champion. Puerto Rican challenger, Jose Pedraza, speaking to ‘BoxingScene.com’, is already talking tactics on how to defeat the Ukrainian,
‘‘I am focused on Beltran but, sure I would love to fight Lomachenko…The key simply is to be in great condition and to match his boxing. Salido used a style…that made Lomachenko very uncomfortable.’’
Pedraza, 24-1 (12KOs) is fighting in his first world title bout since his 7th round stoppage loss to unbeaten super-featherweight, Gervonta Davis last year. Since then Jose took over a year out and, much like Beltran did after his defeat to Crawford, steadily fought his way back into contention; defeating 23-11, Jose Luis Rodriguez and Antonio Moran, 23-2, over 8 & 11 rounds respectively, but ‘Sniper’ recognises the step up he’s about to take again,
‘‘Beltran is a veteran and finally a world champion…It’s going to be a great fight because he will not want to lose the title. I’m 100% prepared for war.’’
Isaac Dogboe vs. Hidenori Otake
Also on Saturday’s card in Arizona, is WBO super-bantamweight champion, Isaac Dogboe of Ghana, who takes on Japanese veteran, Hidenori Otake, in his first defence of the WBO belt proper, won back in April this year.
It’s already been a busy year, for ‘Royal Storm’ Dogboe.
At the beginning of 2018, the WBO champ, 19-0 (13KOs), dismantled Cesar Juarez to a 5th round stoppage victory in his native city of Accra. Then, 4 months ago, the 23-year-old was dropped in the 1st round, before going on to stop unbeaten American, Jessie Magdeleno via the 11th round in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.
‘‘Coming into the fight we did think we could go there and blow Magdaleno out within three rounds and then I found myself on the floor and I wasn’t expecting it.’’ The WBO champ told ‘Sky Sports’ in June.
‘‘I got back up though, unhurt, and kept fighting. I just thought I had to put him back down and wanted to engage…God prepares my hands for war and my fingers for battle.’’
‘‘I’m making my first defence against Otake, a Japanese warrior…I’m not stepping back. We’re on a quest to make this division exciting and great again. We’re shaking up the division.’’
‘‘Isaac ‘Royal Storm’ Dogboe. You all know I bring lighting and thunder.’’
Otake, 31-2-3 (14KOs), will be hoping to bring a storm of his own. The Japanese fighter hasn’t loss since 2014, when he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to then, WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Scott Quigg. It was Hidenori’s one and only fight outside of Japan so far, not a good sign for Saturday.
The former Japanese super-bantamweight champion is on a 9-fight win streak, but it has come against fairly substandard opposition. Saturday’s fight will be his first fight in his pro career, other than the Quigg loss, not to take place in Tokyo’s Korakuen hall.
But home comforts will be the least of Otake’s problems once the bell rings and Dogboe comes out swinging, as is expected.