Former Lightweight World Champion Raymundo Beltran (36-8-1, 22KO) and #2 world ranked WBO contender Hiroki Okada (19-1-0, 13KO) squared off tonight on ESPN.
Throughout his career, Ray Beltran seldom disappoints when it comes to partaking in entertaining, action packed fights. This fight was reflective of that, and Okada contributed to that as well. Beltran after his fight with Jose Pedraza decided to change Trainers, and you could see the immediate difference.
As good as Beltran been for years, the one knock on him was that he didn’t move his head, but you could see rapid head movement from the start. Beltran knocked Okada down with a big left hook in the 2nd round, an early indicator that Beltran’s vaunted power carried up with him a division. Okada got up, and as Beltran was pressing the action, his knees were buckled by a right cross from Okada, and Okada threw the kitchen sink at him.
Going back to the point made earlier, Beltran’s new found head movement saved him in that moment, and minimized the damage. In round 3 and 4, Ray pushed back and bullied the younger, larger fighter by staying in his chest, ripping left hooks to the head and body, and took advantage of Okada’s left hand that he always brought back low after he fired a punch with it.
Beltran’s guile started to take over the middle of the fight, outwitting the younger fighter, and dictating the pace and the action of the fight, baiting him into what Ray wanted him to do, but Okada was there to trade and fight, finding some success in spots.
It felt like Okada was starting to regain back momentum in the 8th and 1st half of 9th round…that is until Beltran landed a nuclear right cross on the ear that sent the Japanese fighter spiraling down to the canvas.
Getting up at 9, Ray did what he does best, and that’s finishing an opponent whenever he smells blood in the water. A smart sequence of power punches strung together put Okada down for a second time in the round, and that was it… Ray Beltran had secured another knockout victory, this time in a higher weight division than normally accustomed to. There is still some boxing life in the veteran, who aspires to get one more title shot in his career.