Beltran-Ao: BoxingScene.com Staff Predictions
By Jake Donovan
The second of three consecutive televised shows in Las Vegas takes us to The Cosmopolitan, where Raymundo Beltran and Takahiro Ao clash in a 12-round bout Friday evening.
The bout kicks off a new series on truTV, with Top Rank serving as the main provider of content. Friday’s edition was supposed to serve as the centerpiece but already comes in with a slight amount of taint after Beltran failed to meet the contracted lightweight limit.
As a result, the vacant lightweight belt for which the bout was to be contested will now only be at stake for Ao (27-3, 12KOs), a former titlist at featherweight and junior lightweight who fights in the United States—and outside of Japan—for just the second time in his 11-plus year career.
The visiting 31-year old southpaw comes in riding a four-fight win streak since conceding his 130 lb. crown in a major upset loss to Gamaliel Diaz at home in Oct. ’12. The current win streak began with a 2nd round knockout of Harry Paredes in his stateside debut two years ago.
His most recent win came last October, soundly outpointing fellow former 130 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Salgado.
Beltran (29-7-1, 17KOs) has long served as one of the hard-luck fighters in the sport. Controversial decision losses to then-unbeaten prospects Sharif Bogere and Luis Ramos saw his cult status raised to where he serves as this generation’s Glen Johnson. His following only grew after being robbed of a lightweight title in a 12-round draw versus Ricky Burns in their Sept. ’13 battle on the road in Glasgow, Scotland.
A clean decision win over Arash Usmanee extended his unbeaten streak to five straight before running into Terence Crawford, dropping a decisive decision last November in their vacant World lightweight championship contest.
Any designs on claiming a long-elusive alphabet title will have to wait at least one more fight. In missing weight during Thursday’s weigh-in, only bragging rights are at stake for Beltran in Friday’s must-win affair.
Read on to see how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes tonight’s lightweight action plays out.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: RAYMUNDO BELTRAN vs. TAKAHIRO AO
Ryan Burton (Beltran SD): I think Beltran and Ao will engage in a fan friendly war where a draw may be seen as fair but the snake bitten Beltran will finally get the nod on the scorecards.
Jake Donovan (Beltran Dec.): As with most fighters at this stage of their career, Ao moved up in weight both out necessity and belief that it’s his best shot at another title. Sound logic, but he’s on the wrong side of his prime. Beltran missing weight was a disappointment, but should be strong enough to belt out a well-deserved decision. How it’s scored—given his track record—is another story, but doubtful he gets robbed here.
Takahiro Onaga (Beltran SD): Ao start well but lose down stretch in close bout.
Cliff Rold (Beltran KO): Ao is on the downside and Beltran is in with someone much easier, and smaller, than Crawford. It should have some fun spots.
Victor Salazar (Beltran late KO): Ray Beltran will fight and finally earn his much evaded world title as he will beat Ao by late stoppage.
Alexey Sukachev (Beltran UD): Ao (a two-time two-division champion) is of a higher class than Beltran, but fighting in his homeland with a sense of his quite possibly the last chance of glory will allow Ray to prevail in a very close and hotly contested match-up.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by GoldenGloveLove on 05-01-2015
Beltran will get to him I think. Get that pressure on him. Get the better of a tough one.Comment by knockoutkid on 05-01-2015
Ao sucks , its just whether he gets stopped or notPost a Comment - View More User Comments (2)
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