By Keith Idec
Ray Beltran couldn’t score another spectacular knockout Saturday night, but he beat Bryan Vasquez by majority decision.
Beltran out-landed Vasquez over 10 rounds to win on two of three scorecards in a lightweight fight ESPN televised from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Phoenix’s Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs), a longtime sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, won by the same score on two cards (96-94). The fight was even on one scorecard (95-95).
The 29-year-old Vasquez (35-3, 19 KOs) lost for the second time in three fights. Before Saturday night, Vasquez hadn’t fought in 13 months. He took the Beltran bout on four weeks’ notice, too.
Costa Rica’s Vasquez was the one that didn’t make weight Friday afternoon, but Beltran clearly was the bigger, stronger fighter. The lightweight contender couldn’t drop Vasquez, yet landed the harder punches for most of the bout.
According to ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, Vasquez suffered an injury to his left hand in the third round, which prevented the former 130-pound champion from using it as much as he wanted thereafter. Beltran suffered two cuts during the fight – one near the corner of his right eye in the ninth round and another in the middle of his forehead in the 10th round.
Beltran admitted after the fight that Vasquez hurt him just before the final bell sounded to end it. Vasquez rallied once Beltran was cut the second time, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the lead Beltran built on two of the cards.
Beltran connected with a hard right hand to the side of Vasquez’s head with just over two minutes to go in the seventh round. Vasquez hit Beltran with a variety of punches during a productive fifth round for the smaller fighter, his best of the fight to that point.
Beltran blasted Vasquez with two left hooks right after the first minute of the fourth round had expired. Just before the third round ended, Vasquez and Beltran landed during what to that point was the best exchange in the fight.
Beltran drilled Vasquez with a short right hand to his jaw that got Vasquez’s attention just before the 30-second mark of the second round. Beltran landed a solid left-right combination with about 45 seconds to go in a largely uneventful first round.
Beltran won a fifth straight fight since his technical knockout of Takahiro Ao in May 2015 was changed to a no-contest because Beltran tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The native Mexican now will turn his attention toward attaining a green card for permanent residency in the United States.
The married father of three has remained the United States on a work visa for many years, but as his boxing career winds down, he needs to get a green card to stay in the country with his family.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.