Cesar Francis will return to the site of his most notable win to date for a showdown with a former titleholder.
The unbeaten junior welterweight prospect is set for a crossroads bout with former WBO lightweight titlist Raymundo Beltran, which headlines a July 9 ProBox TV telecast from ProBox Events Center in Plant City, Florida. The scheduled ten-round regional junior welterweight title fight marks the biggest step up in competition for the 31-year old Francis, a promising Panamanian talent based out of Brooklyn who welcomes the challenge.
“It’s my time to shine. I’m going to go in and perform,” said Francis. “Beltran is a great veteran, and I am not overlooking him."
Francis (10-0, 6KOs) appeared at this very same venue this past March 25, where he scored a convincing ten-round decision win over France's Mohamed Mimoune. The feat followed an eight-round nod over previously unbeaten Jose Roman Vazquez last October in front of a hometown crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The career trajectory for Beltran (37-9-1, 23KOs) is at the opposite end, with the 40-year-old Mexican facing must-win scenarios in every fight these days.
Beltran's career reached its pinnacle in February 2018, outpointing Paulus Moses to claim the vacant WBO lightweight title. The win was one of two significant milestones reached for Beltran, who—having relocated to Phoenix from Los Mochis, Mexico through work visas—was granted permanent U.S. resident status prior to the fight.
Claiming a major title on his fourth try was the cherry on top, though his title reign was short-lived. A homecoming for Beltran was ruined by Jose Pedraza, who scored a lopsided decision just six months later in his first attempted defense in Glendale, Arizona. Efforts to become a two-time titlist saw Beltran first miss weight for a June 2019 challenge of then-IBF lightweight title claimant Richard Commey ahead of an eventual eighth-round knockout loss.
Beltran has fought just once since then, a sixth-round stoppage win in a confidence-restoring tune-up last October in Glendale. It was enough for the now 40-year-old Beltran to pursue opportunities such as the one in store.
“I’ve been looking and waiting for this fight,” said Beltran. “Cesar Francis is an undefeated fighter who has a lot of confidence, and this is the kind of fight I need to put myself back on the map. I think my experience will help a lot because I’ve been in there with high-level fighters. Like always, I will do my part to make sure it’s an action-packed fight. My fights have never been boring. They’re always full of action.”
The pairing comes full circle for Francis, who—prior to his rise to noted prospect—made his bones as a sparring partner for Commey. The two worked together prior to Commey's aforementioned win over Beltran, with the roles now reversed for Francis' potential breakthrough fight. Commey will now help prepare the unbeaten rising talent prepare for this fight while training for his own showdown with Pedraza later this summer.
"I helped Richard Commey get ready for his fight against [Beltran]," notes Francis. "And this time Commey will be my sparring partner. People better bring their umbrellas because it’s going to ‘rain’ that day.”
Further details of the event are expected in the coming weeks.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox