By: Bryant Romero
Another Top Rank card on ESPN is in the books and the fans who attended at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada were treated to a great fight in the main event.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
On the undercard, the A-sides to each bout delivered in expected victories as Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings (22-2, 13 KOs) demolished an overmatched Akhror Muralimov (16-4) in just three rounds. Also, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (5-0, 2 KOs) scored a wide unanimous decision win over Juan Tapia (8-2, 3 KOs) in what was his first scheduled eight-rounder of the 20-year-old’s 10 month pro career.
In the co-featured bout, the “Mean Machine” Egidijus Kavaliauskas (19-0, 6 KOs) defeated his most notable opponent to date by stopping former world champion David Avanesyan (23-2-1) in the sixth round. The bout started out slowly as Kavaliauskas slowly but surely broke down Avanesyan with big counter power shots, rocking the former champion with hooks and overhand rights. The mean machine was simply too strong for the Russian fighter as referee Tony Weeks was forced to put a halt to the bout after consecutive unanswered blows were delivered to the head and body of Avanesyan.
Finally in the main event, Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) was a heavy favorite to pick up the vacant WBO lightweight strap against 39-year-old Paulus Moses (40-4, 25 KOs). However, it was a much more difficult than expected for Beltran as Moses withstood the early onslaught and began to gain confidence as the bout progressed. The Nambian fighter started to gain momentum in the middle rounds opening cuts on both of the eyes of the Mexican fighter with an accurate jab and big straight right hands.
Despite fighting with cuts over both eyes for nine-plus rounds, Beltran dug deep and got a second wind in the last quarter of the fight as Moses began to tire.
Beltran closed the fight strong establishing more distance between himself and his opponent, getting tagged less, and scoring several power shots of his own. The late rally seemed to seal the deal for Beltran as he was awarded with a comfortable unanimous decision win. The Mexican immigrant won the WBO lightweight title in his fourth attempt as his ongoing pursuit for a green card may finally come to an end.
By: Eric Lunger
On Thursday night, Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN presents two ten-round bouts featuring some of the brightest prospects in the super featherweight division. The broadcast will be live from the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD, on ESPN Deportes (8:00 p.m. ET), with a tape delay rebroadcast on ESPN 2 (11:00 p.m. ET).
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Promotions
Lamont Roach, Jr., (15-0, 6 KOs) is an undefeated prospect from Marlboro, Maryland, with an extensive amateur pedigree, including two National Junior Golden Gloves championships. Roach has been brought along carefully by his manager/father Lamont Roach, Sr., and Thursday will mark his third test at the ten-round distance. At 22 years old, the five-foot-seven orthodox boxer is a busy young man: he currently attends the University of Maryland, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Stylistically, Roach is a tight and controlled fighter, with an accurate and short lead left hook. Lamont will appeal to boxing purists who appreciate technical proficiency and attention to defensive fundamentals.
Ray Perez, 27, hails from Santa Rosa City in the Philippines. As his record (21-8, 6 KOs) indicates, he’s had a mixed career. He has been in the ring against some high-level opposition – notably a seventh round KO loss to Jesse Magdaleno in February of 2016 – but he has yet to achieve that signature win to propel his career forward. The five-foot-six orthodox fighter offers a fairly uncomplicated style, staying in the pocket and relying on his innate toughness to take a shot in order to land one. He is not to be underestimated, however. Perez can throw an effective uppercut if his opponent gets lazy and leans in. Can Perez bring more aggression than Roach’s technique can handle? Or will Roach’s skill level be too much for the Filipino?
Jose “Wonder Boy” Lopez (19-1, 14 KOs) vs. Avery Sparrow (8-1, 3 KOs) is also set for ten rounds at the super featherweight limit. Lopez, 23, is five-foot-nine, tall and rangy with good knockout power. The Puerto Rico native fights out of the orthodox stance with a come-forward aggressive style. His overhand right is very dangerous, but he can leave himself open while seeking to land it. Nonetheless, Lopez is as dynamic and exciting as they come.
Sparrow, 23, represents the great fighting tradition of Philadelphia, PA, and has been busy in 2017, as Thursday will mark his fourth tilt of the year. Sparrow can be overly aggressive to the detriment of his defense, and he will need to tighten up the wide, loopy hooks he tends to throw if he wants to be successful against Lopez. If styles make fights, Lopez vs. Sparrow promises to be wide open and full throttle.
The other notable bout of the evening features Manuel Avila (22-1, 8 KOs) taking on Nick Otieno (31-12, 13 KOs) of Kenya in an eight-round featherweight bout. Avila, fighting out of Vallejo, CA, is looking to bounce back after his first defeat last May at the hands of undefeated Joseph Diaz.