Cesar Francis overcame a determined former titleholder to preserve his perfect ring ledger.

The unbeaten junior welterweight prospect floored former WBO lightweight titlist Raymundo Beltran in the fourth round en route to a ten-round, unanimous decision victory. Scores were 95-94, 96-93 and 98-91 in favor of Francis in their ProBox TV main event Saturday evening from Whitesands Events Center in Plant City, Florida.

Francis wisely boxed from the outside in the early rounds. Even a faded version of Beltran was the heavier puncher of the two, a fact not lost on the Brooklyn-based Panamanian who used every inch of the ring while shooting lead right hands from long range.

The same pattern held true in round two, though with Beltran slowly closing the gap. Francis wisely covered up anytime the Mexican veteran—now based out of the greater Phoenix area—let his hands go at close quarters, before resuming lateral movement and clean shots from the outside.

Beltran had Francis on the defensive for much of round three, dialed in with his body shots. The 41-year-old Beltran seemed well preserved, dictating the pace while Francis’ jab as he sought to reestablish his desired distance.

Francis made his presence felt late in round four. Beltran followed Francis around the ring, walking into a left hook that prompted him to drop his guard. Francis planted his feet and drove him another left hook to produce the bout’s first knockdown just before the bell to end the round. Referee Brian Garry issued a mandatory eight bout before causing momentary confusion as he waved his arms in a motion to suggest the fight was over. Beltran was caught off guard before the referee informed him that it was merely the end of the round and not the fight.

Momentum remained with Francis in the middle rounds. The unbeaten 31-year-old worked his jab and kept Beltran off rhythm with constant lateral movement. Beltran finally worked his way inside late in round six, by which point Francis had already won the round and easily picked off the incoming.

Francis continued to control the pace in round seven. Beltran followed him around the ring, walking into jabs and straight right hands as Francis was steady in his offense while not taking any risks.

The tactic was for good reason, as Beltran snapped back Francis’ head with consecutive left hooks midway through round eight. Francis took the shots well, coming back to trade hooks with Beltran and getting the better of the ensuing exchange. Enough right hands also found their way home for blood to begin to pour from outside Beltran’s left eye.

Francis employed a stick and move approach in round nine. Beltran stood directly in front of Francis, who landed with a straight right hand before immediately sliding out of harm’s way.

Beltran let his hands go in the tenth and final round, cognizant that he needed a knockout to win. Francis spent much of the frame behind a tight guard, not wanting to risk getting caught with anything foolish. The surge by Beltran barely extended to the midway point of the round, as Francis put enough behind his punches to back up the faded veteran. A tasty exchange saw both land right hands in the closing seconds as they embraced at the bell.

Francis improves to 11-0 (6KOs), picking up his second notable win of the year. He turned away a stiff challenge from Mohamed Mimoune in his previous outing at this very venue in March.

The unbeaten prospect will now return to the training camp of former lightweight titlist Richard Commey, with the two having frequently sparred together. Francis was part of the camp for Commey’s knockout win over Beltran in a June 2019 IBF lightweight title defense.

Beltran falls to 37-10-1 (23KOs), as he is now 2-3 in his last five fights. His career hit paydirt in a February 2018 WBO lightweight title win, coming right at the time when he finally won a battle to gain U.S. citizenship. It proved to be his best and last great moment of his career, losing his title to Jose Pedraza just six months later and again to Commey less than a year later. Beltran returned with a win last October and was competitive enough on Saturday to where he will likely earn another payday or two before calling it a career.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox