In the first world title fight in Reno in 12-plus years, veterans Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) and Paulus Moses (40-4, 25 KOs) put on a good show in pursuit of the vacant WBO lightweight title. When the smoke cleared, fan favorite Beltran emerged with the belt, winning by scores of 117-111 twice and 116-112. There were no knockdowns, but both fighters were bloodied, in particular the victorious Beltran who bled from both eyes and ended the contest with his face a mask of crimson.
Beltran started and finished strong, but the well-conditioned 39-year-old Moses, a Namibian making his first U.S. appearance, had many good moments. It was a feel-good story for the 36-year-old Beltran, a longtime Manny Pacquiao sparring partner who turned pro way back in 1999 and was fighting for something more than a world title.
Beltran spent his formative years in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, where he reportedly lived in a shack made of sheet metal and cardboard without running water or electricity. Now married with three children, he entered the United States illegally as a teenager and settled in Phoenix where he has lived more than half his life.
For Beltran, this victory is expected to be the clincher, the final hurdle to getting his EB1 green card which will confer upon him full citizenship in his adopted country. (The EB1 green card is reserved for “applicants that can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.”)
In the chief undercard bout, a 10-round welterweight match, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, a two-time Olympian for Lithuania, scored a sixth round TKO over David Avenesyan. Kavaliauskas hurt Avenesyan with a right hook and then rained punches on him, forcing referee Tony Weeks to intervene. A stablemate of Vasyl Lomachenko, Kavaliauskas advanced to 19-0 (16). Mark his name down as a potential down-the-road opponent for pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford. The well-traveled Avenesyan declined to 23-3-1.
In the TV lid-lifter, 20-year-old Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson pitched an 8-round shutout over Juan Tapia. All three judges graded the ho-hum fight 80-72.
Philadelphia heavyweight Bryant Jennings, on the comeback trail after losing back-to-back fights against Wladimir Klitschko and Luis “King Kong” Ortiz, improved to 22-2 with a third round TKO over paunchy Akhror Muralimov. Jennings scored five knockdowns before the plug was pulled. It was the fourth straight loss for the Uzbekistan-born, Houston-based Muralimov who started his career 16-0.
In a welterweight contest, Alexander Besputin dominated Wesley Tucker whose corner stopped the contest after the fifth round. Besputin improved to 9-0.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.