By Jake Donovan
In what is becoming a recurring theme as of late, Luis Ramos Jr. survived yet another tough test in his progressing career.
The 23-year old prospect survived a rocky start and cuts from two separate headbutts to take a well-earned unanimous decision over Raymundo Beltran in their 10-round main event Friday evening at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
Scores were 97-93 (twice) and 96-94 in their Showtime-televised headliner.
The level of opposition has progressively increased in Ramos’ young career, enduring a trio of tough tests in a 2011 campaign that proved his mettle. Beltran only added to that run, coming out fighting from the opening bell with the intent of making things as uncomfortable as possible for the Santa Ana (CA)-based lightweight.
Ramos is no stranger to overcoming adversity, being forced to dig deep in outlasting Jose Hernandez and Francisco Lorenzo in back-to-back fights last year. The southpaw exuded poise under siege in the early going of this bout, forcing Beltran to turn to another bag of tricks in his best efforts to remain competitive.
A headbutt midway through the third round left Ramos with a cut outside of his right eyebrow. The ringside physician quickly examined and allowed the fight to continue. The minor injury prompted Ramos to step on the gas, throwing with more conviction while Beltran continued to come forward.
The fighters maintained the same roles throughout the fight. Beltran was the aggressor intent on walking his younger foe down. Ramos was the boxer, sitting back and looking for counter opportunities, though well aware that he would have to make Beltran feel his punches in order to keep the Mexican off of him.
Beltran wasn’t having any of it, determined to remain in Ramos’ grill in every effort to test his heart. Perhaps he was too literal in staying in his opponent’s face, as another clash of heads came about when Beltran leaned in while Ramos was attempting a combination. The ruling from the ringside was “same”, suggesting that the facial damage was no more threatening than it was two rounds ago.
The two fighters went toe-to-toe in the middle rounds, a strategy that wasn’t very much to the liking of Ramos’ corner. However, it proved effective for the young upstart, who enjoyed his most convincing moment of the fight, landing a power shot upstairs midway through the round as Beltran literally walked into the punch.
Sensing the shot at an upset was slipping away, soon-to-be Hall of Fame enshrined trainer Freddie Roach urged Beltran to stop stalking and simply “come up the middle,” meaning throw straighter punches. The veteran – often used as a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao – listened to a degree, enjoying a better round in the eighth than had been the case in the past several.
It wasn’t enough to turn the tide in his favor, as Ramos came roaring back in the ninth. Bouncing on his toes, the unbeaten lightweight was boxing confidently and trading only when necessary, while wisely tying up whenever Beltran threatened to counter and rally. The two stood toe-to-toe and traded away in the final minute of the round, though it was Ramos ending every exchange.
Fatigue set in for both fighters in the final round, though deservedly so. Still, both fighters found a way to dig deep and leave the crowd on its feet by the end of the fight. Ramos clinched as often as he threw in the first two minutes of the round, with Beltran forcing the action though not landing very often.
Ramos was effective in sliding just out of harm’s way and immediately countering. When that no longer worked, he bit down and traded, resulting in a toe-to-toe exchange at center ring until the very end.
Scores were wider than expected in the end, but going to the right guy as Ramos dropped to his knees his hearing his name announced in victory.
Ramos improves – in every sense of the word – to 21-0 (9KO) with the win, going the distance for the fourth time in his past five contests.
In the opposite corner, it’s another hard-luck night at the office for Beltran, who was none too happy at the end of the fight and had to be escorted out of the ring. The veteran falls to 25-6 (17KO) in suffering the second loss in his last three contests.
Both fights came on Shobox, as the Mexican dropped a controversial decision to Sharif Bogere last May in a fight that could’ve easily been scored in his favor. No such luck here, as the best he can offer was an honest test against an honest fighter.
If the crowd’s reaction was any indication, perhaps a case could be made in this fight as well, as chants of “Bulls(p)it” filled the venue.
What wasn’t any bull was the amount of action provided, both in the main event as co-feature, as fans got their money’s worth in a hell of way to begin the new year.
FIGUEROA BREAKS DOWN PEREZ
Omar Figueroa boldly stated earlier in the week, “Michael Perez can’t box me for 10 rounds, and I know he can’t outbrawl me.”
The unbeaten Texan proved to be a prophet, with their lightweight clash going according to the scouting report – save for the outcome, as Figueroa scored a minor upset in forcing Perez to quit on his stool after six action-packed rounds in their televised co-feature.
Perez came out boxing – as expected – in the opening round, but it wasn’t as if he was offering love taps. Both fighters dug deep from the opening bell, Perez working behind his jab and also throwing body punches with conviction, while Figueroa switched back and forth in his best efforts to cut off the ring and force a phone booth war.
The second round saw that very game plan come to fruition, as Perez was slowly forced out of his comfort zone. The unbeaten Newark (NJ) prospect had no problem getting his hands dirty and brawling, but it just wasn’t in his best interest to fight his opponent’s fight.
Figueroa gave him no other choice, remaining in his face and firing off power shots at an alarmingly high rate as he averaged nearly 100 punches per round through the first two. Perez appeared to bounce back well in the third, only to get caught with a flurry towards the end of the round.
The sequence proved to be the turning point in the fight as Figueroa poured on the pain and never looked back. Perez looked worse for the wear with each passing round, as Figueroa scored to the body as well as timing his opponent coming in as he landed hooks upstairs.
A combination by Figueroa had Perez in trouble towards the end of the sixth, prompting referee Jose Cobian to step in and nearly stop it, only to give the 21-year old another chance.
Perez’ corner wasn’t nearly as kind – or perhaps they were. Sensing their fighter was only going to take more punishment, a command decision was made to pull the plug and live to fight another day.
The official time was 3:00 of round six.
Figueroa scores by far the biggest win of his young career, improving to 14-0-1 (11KO) with the win, his first since suffering injuries in a car accident that left him inactive since August.
Perez loses for the first time in his young career as he falls to 15-1-1 (9KO).
Both bouts aired live on Showtime and were (proudly) presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]