by Francisco Salazar
Ray Beltran has gone through a lot over the last couple of years and it does not have anything to do with putting on a pair of gloves or stepping inside a ring.
It has been well-documented Beltran is attempting to secure citizenship in this country and the more successful one is, the better the chances are that he receives it.
However, that is not what Beltran wants to be known for. The 36-year-old Beltran wants to be known as a world champion, something that has eluded him throughout his career.
Beltran hopes he is one step closer after tonight, as he faces Bryan Vasquez in a 10 round lightweight bout at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. The bout will precede the Vasyl Lomachenko's world junior lightweight title defense against Miguel Marriaga.
Both fights will air on ESPN, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT.
Beltran (33-7-1 1 NC, with 21 knockouts) is coming off a highlight-reel knockout victory over Jonathan Maicelo in New York City on May 20. He has won his last four bouts, all by knockout.
Beltran faces Vasquez, who has an impressive record of 35-2, with 19 KOs, but has been in active over the last couple of years.
"He's a good fighter and he comes to fight," Beltran told Boxingscene.com in a recent interview. "He's a slick fighter and I respect what he brings to the table. His style fits me because he comes forward."
With his recent success in the ring, Beltran's accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. He is currently ranked number two by the WBC and IBF, along with number six by the WBA.
Beltran believes he is amongst the elite in a competitive and talented lightweight division.
"I believe I'm just as capable of beating any of the fighters at 135 pounds. I believe I can beat anyone at 135 pounds."
Manager Steven Feder agrees.
"Why doesn't (Jorge) Linares want to fight us? What about (Mikey) Garcia? They make match-ups like Terry Flanagan and Felix Verdejo when that's our fight (against Flanagan). There's a reason why they don't want to fight us. What we're doing is winning and having the sanctioning bodies force them to face us."
"We'll even entertain a fight with Vasyl Lomachenko. We'll fight anyone."
While Beltran is facing opponents in the ring, he has had to deal with obstacles outside of it. He is in the process of securing a Resident Alien ("green card") card, which would allow him to remain in this country. He has been told by officials with the U.S. government that winning a world title would secure that goal.
"I believe I have the mentality to overcome anything. I can't give up. I've fought for what I believe in. Boxing has given me the opportunity to attempt to overcome this immigration situation. It's been tough. But I'm grateful for this opportunity."
"It takes hard work and dedication to overcome this, but I feel like I'm strong for this. I'm continuing my fight to achieve my citizenship."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing