By Jake Donovan
With boxing cards in town in Las Vegas on three consecutive nights, every fighter involved is best served to do something spectacular to make sure to still stand out by the end of the weekend.
Raymundo Beltran and Ji-Hoon Kim certainly got the memo. Both fighters immediate cut tto the chase in their main event Thursday evening at The Mirage in Las Vegas, in a special edition of ESPN2’s boxing series. An opening round that saw both fighters hit the deck set the tone for an entertaining slugfest, eventually won by Beltran.
Scores were 98-92 (twice) and 97-93 in their lightweight contest.
Beltran entered the bout on the heels of the biggest win of his career, an upset majority decision over Hank Lundy this past July, which also aired on ESPN2. As has far too often been the case in his career, the momentum didn’t last very long as Beltran was decked in early in the fight, courtesy of a left hook.
Kim made the mistake of assuming the knockdown as a sign that his opponent was ripe for the taking. The free swinging Korean brawler wasted no time in emptying his clip, only to watch Beltran shake it off and charge right back. Kim was already in trouble midway through the round before being floored late in the round, also by a left hook. He made it to his feet but was on wobbly legs upon walking back to the corner.
The remainder of the fight wasn’t terribly competitive, but Kim lent the presence of being one punch away from turning things around at any given time. His most significant punch following the opening round blitz, however, was a severe low blow in round two that buckled Beltran’s knees.
Beltran recovered and remained in control for the next several rounds, rocking Kim at times and outboxing him for the most part. Kim rallied back towards the end of the fourth round, catching Beltran with a flurry to remind him that there was plenty of fighting to be done.
Fatigue began to set in for both fighters during the middle rounds. Kim was the busier fighter but pushing his punches, while Beltran was more measured in his approach. A right hand midway through the round stopped Kim in his tracks just long enough for Beltran to resume control of the fight.
After a few relatively slow rounds, Beltran came out firing in round eight. Consecutive left hooks once again had Kim in trouble, though the 25-year old refused to wilt. A left hook by Kim backed Beltran into a corner before action moved to center ring, where both fighters traded body shots. Kim picked up the pace towards the end of the round, scoring with a left hook and right uppercut to offset the damage caused by a straight right from Beltran in the final minute.
The right hand landed at an opportune time, as Beltran revealed between rounds that his left hand was possibly broken. Head trainer Freddie Roach wasn't concerned with the injury or excuses, demanding that his fighter use both hands for the final two rounds.
Beltran did his best to obey his trainer, but the injury clearly hampered his performance down the stretch. Kim detected something was amiss, playing the role of aggressor but not able to fully capitalize on his opponent's handicap.
With the fight seemingly in the bag heading into the final round, Beltran fought merely to preserve his lead - and his one healthy hand. The Mexican gatekeeper hardly played it safe, but at the same time was clearly in no condition to properly close the show. Kim was willing to go all in, but lacked the necessary talent to take the lead or provide any late round drama.
Still, the ten rounds of action was enough to leave fans cheering by fight's end. Both fighters were in good spirits at the final bell, their arms around each other's shoulders as they paraded around the ring in celebration.
When all was said and done, it was Beltran pulling out his second straight win. It marked the first time in nearly two years in which he can claim a winning streak of two or more as he improves to 27-7 (17KO).
Kim watches a three-fight win streak come to a close as he falls to 24-8 (18KO).
The fight aired live on ESPN2.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: