Ray Beltran Beats Ji-Hoon Kim; Jessie Magdaleno Wins Too in Vegas

Beltran sends Kim to the mat in a wild round one. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)

LAS VEGAS-Raymundo Beltran survived an exchange of knockdowns in the first round to out-last the very tough Ji Hoon Kim and retain the NABF lightweight title and hometown hero Jessie Magdaleno remained undefeated on Thursday night at the Mirage in Las Vegas.

Two days before the big fight, Beltran and Kim wowed the crowd of fans and celebrities with their extreme resilience. The Top Rank fight card was televised by ESPN and a couple of thousand fans showed up any way.

Kim opened up the fight by catching Beltran with a perfect left hook to the chin in the opening round. Beltran got up slowly and crossed himself before resuming the fight. Later in the same round Beltran connected with his own left hook from a distance and down went Kim. The bell sounded a few seconds after Kim beat the count.

From the second round on it was Beltran working Kim’s body but the Korean was firing back with bombs. Though Beltran was the more accurate puncher Kim had his moments in every round. After 10 brutal rounds the fight ended with Beltran a little busier and more accurate. All three judges scored it for Southern California’s Beltran. Judge Lisa Giampa saw it 97-94, judges Dave Moretti and Jerry Roth both had 98-92.


Fans came to see knockout artist Jessie Magdaleno (13-0, 9 kos) roll up another knockout but he found it a little tougher than usual against Ontario’s speedy Jonathan Arellano. Still, he knocked down the Californian twice in winning by unanimous decision in an eight round junior featherweight fight.

Magdaleno didn’t waste time in trying out Arellano’s chin in the first round. He unloaded with both barrels but saw Arellano slip most of the blows. After that, he methodically went to work.
In round two a counter right hand dropped Arellano, who began to move in closer. In the third round Magdaleno slipped into attack mode and looked ready to end the night, but Arellano countered with some booming left hook counters.

“It surprised me,” said Magdaleno. “He took advantage. It was a learning experience.”

Magdaleno slipped into attack mode and then back into defensive mode while confusing Arellano a bit because of his southpaw stance. Arellano couldn’t seem to get into the firing lanes without getting hit with the right hook.

Arellano weakened little by little but kept looking for the perfect counter. Magdaleno fired two lead left hands that hurt the Californian, who was ultimately dropped by a five-punch combination. Arellano beat the count and resumed fighting.

“I could have knocked him out but I wanted to show I’m a good boxer as well,” said Magdaleno after.

In the final round though Magdaleno was firing at will, Arellano continued firing back looking to end the fight in his favor. But the bell rang and all three judges gave Magdaleno all eight rounds. The scores were 80-70 twice and 80-69 for Magdaleno.

Other bouts

Hometown fighter Robert Osiobe (14-5-4, 6 Kos) upset previously undefeated Jose Roman (14-1-1, 11 Kos) by split decision after eight rounds of a lightweight fight. Though Roman landed the harder and more accurate shots – including a knockdown in the eighth round – judges Dave Moretti and Dick Houck scored it 76-75 for Osiobe. Judge Bob Bennett scored it 77-74 for Roman. Many in press row saw Roman winning the fight.

In a one-sided fight Evgeny “The Mexican Russian” Gradovich (15-0, 8 Kos) battered New Mexico’s Willie Villanueva (10-5-1, 2 Kos) and eventually forced referee Robert Byrd to halt the fight at 2:03 of round seven. Gradovich, who fights out of Oxnard, was too quick and too accurate for Villanueva who rarely scored more than two or three punches a round. A flurry of blows by Gradovich forced the referee to stop the fight.

Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo (1-0) won his pro debut but it wasn’t easy against L.A. boxer Leonard Chavez (1-1) in a junior lightweight contest. Verdejo was the busier fighter and his activity was the difference after four rounds.

Local fight Jesus Gutierrez (7-0) defeated Oklahoma’s Mike Maldonado (6-1) by unanimous decision after six rounds of a lightweight bout. Gutierrez landed the harder blows and that proved the difference in the fight. Judge Lisa Giampa scored it 58-56 and Moretti and Ross had it 59-55.

Rhode Island’s Toka Kahn-Clary defeated Dallas’s Jesus Garza by unanimous decision after four rounds of a junior lightweight bout. The left-handed Clary got off to a fast start but Garza stayed apace. Two judges scored it 40-36 and one 39-37 for Clary.