Ramos (left) and Beltran should provide solid action on Friday in California.
Lightweights are amazing.
Throughout many decades the 135-pounders have brought us some of the most astonishing and devilish prizefighters the boxing world has witnessed. From gutsy street brawlers to refined strategists to pure knockout specialists with hands of stone, the lightweights are the bull’s eye of boxing.
Sam Langford began as a lightweight back in 1902 but was feared and avoided with such vigor he kept moving up in weight until he eventually was fighting heavyweights. The clever boxer-puncher was the prototype for the style that many fighters like Floyd Mayweather employ. He eventually became the black heavyweight world champion though he stood a mere 5’8”. Langford fought and lost a 15-round decision to the great Jack Johnson two years before that fighter became heavyweight champion in 1908. Langford is perhaps the greatest fighter the world has ever seen and began at 135 pounds.
Other lightweights shone brightly such as Barney Ross, Benny Leonard, Lou Ambers, Tony Canzoneri, Beau Jack, Ike Williams, Carlos Ortiz and Hector Camacho. They all emphatically proved capable of fighting at even heavier weights successfully. They also exemplify the capabilities of the 135-pound weight division.
On Friday night at Fantasy Springs Casino a quartet of rising lightweight contenders led by undefeated Luis Ramos, who meets Raymundo “Sugar” Beltran, perform. The Golden Boy Promotions fight card will be televised on Showtime.
It’s not fair and far too early to suggest that any of the lightweights on the fight card will equal Sam Langford let alone Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran. But lightweights seldom disappoint with their blend of speed and power.
Ramos is an undefeated southpaw that I saw fight as an amateur in local wars against Carlos Molina, Mikey Garcia and others. He always had that character and competitiveness that the good ones possess.
Beltran is a veteran of numerous wars in the prize ring and inside the war zone known as the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. He’s exchanged blows with guys like Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. Nothing is handed to him.
Ramos and Beltran meet to determine who gets the world title shot first. It should get testy immediately.
“If this fights goes to a decision I know I’m not going to win,” says Beltran, deadpan. “The only way that I can win is by knockout.”
Because of close losses to Sharif Bogere and others the Freddie Roach trained boxer has a hard edged outlook on the odds of him winning a decision.
During the opening press conference Ramos was standing a few feet away when Beltran informed the press and all those concerned with the fight that he intends to knock Ramos’ block off.
“You heard what he said,” says Ramos, who is familiar with Beltran. “This fight means a lot to me and to achieve my dream of being a world champion.”
Winning a lightweight world title means a lot to any prizefighter. Most of them know the history of boxing and though they may not know Sam Langford, they have heard about Roberto Duran.
Beltran and Ramos will not be the only lightweights performing. Mike “The Artist” Perez (15-0-1, 9 KOs) and Omar “Panterita” Figueroa (13-0-1, 10 KOs) also tangle on the Fantasy Springs fight card.
Perez hails from Newark and last stopped Tyrone Harris in two rounds.
Figueroa calls Weslaco, Texas home and knocked out iron chinned Marcos Herrera in two.
Lightweights are seldom dull. There’s a century of history to prove it.
East L.A.’s Frankie Gomez (12-0, 9 KOs) is also scheduled to fight. For more information call (800) 827-2946.
Hall of Fame boxing great Larry Holmes will attend the fight card at Fantasy Springs Casino on Friday.
Holmes is considered one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time and participated in a number of bruising battles against Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Gerry Cooney, Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks.
Showtime will be free for non-subscribers from Jan. 6 through Jan. 8, including the boxing card at Fantasy Springs.
“We’re excited to be back on Shobox and it’s a free preview weekend,” said Steve Bash, who promotes Beltran.
The semi-main event will also be televised by Showtime.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Dyah Davis (20-2-1) vs. Alfonso Lopez (22-1).
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Luis Ramos (20-0) vs. Raymundo Beltran (25-5).
Sat. Showtime, 10 p.m., Lorenz Larkin (12-0) vs. Mo Lawal (8-1)
Sat. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Ed Paredes (28-3-1) vs. Michael Lozada (39-9-1).
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?