High Stakes for Ray Beltran

Ray Beltran will meet Jonathan Maicelo for more than a shot at a lightweight world title.

The stakes are high for Ray Beltran (32-7-1, 20 KO). The stakes are always high for the 35-year old who is never without an intense display of resolve. Beltran will face Jonathan Maicelo (25-2-0, 12 KO) in Madison Square Garden in an elimination bout on May 20.

According to Top Rank, the winner will become the mandatory challenger for lightweight world titleholder Robert Easter Jr. (19-0, 14 KOs). Easter is scheduled for a mandatory defense against Denis Shafikov (38-2-1, 20 KOs) on June 30.

When the two-time world challenger steps into the ring as co-feature of the Terence Crawford-Felix Diaz match, Beltran will be well prepared and laser-focused on becoming a world champion for two reasons—winning and survival.

“This is an important fight for my career and for my family. I’ve worked my whole life to become champion and this, this is my opportunity to make that happen,” said Beltran after a workout at Wild Card during training camp.

Wild Card is a no-frills boxer’s gym. Situated off a main drag in Hollywood, California, the building used to occupy a laundry mat on the bottom floor. It’s a place for contenders and world champions to come to work.

In a gym full of boxers from every level, you’d be hard pressed to find a fighter who works as hard as Beltran. Even Michael Buffer recognizes the meticulous preparation undertaken by the pugilist.

It’s odd to think that 18 professional years later he’s still an underdog. This is a fighter who has to prove that he belongs among the elite boxers in the world beyond the tale of the tape.

“You start at the bottom and fight your way to the top. Along the way you find out if you’re a fighter. Ray Beltran is a fighter, no doubt,” added longtime manager and fight game veteran Steven Feder.

Feder has been alongside Beltran’s career ups and downs, including 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland, when he lost a controversial decision to Scotsman Ricky Burns.

Like so many fighters, combat doesn’t just present itself in the boxing ring for Beltran. He’s married with three children and battling to permanently become a citizen of the U.S.

“Winning puts me in position for the belt and makes a way for me to become a citizen. I need my green card. I’m fighting to stay in this country.”

Ray is as passionate as he is humble.  He’s an emotional guy, especially when talking about his family. Memories of being raised in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, and hustling as a five-year-old to make a few cents here and there serve as a reminder of how far he’s come in life.

“I’ve done it the hard way and that’s ok. That’s what I want my kids to see. How I wasn’t afraid to work hard even when people doubted me. I would never lose my confidence. I want them to have strong minds and achieve greatness in life.”

Beltran has won his last three fights by knockout. When he squares up against a game Jonathan Maicelo, he’ll have everything and nothing to prove at the same time.

“To me, I’m already a world champion. Now, all I need is that belt.”

See more articles by The Sportsnista at REALSPORT101.COM

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