by Fox Doucette
On a special Thursday night ESPN2 boxing special, Raymundo Beltran (27-6, 17 KOs) carried Korean Ji-Hoon Kim (24-8, 18 KOs) the ten-round distance en route to an easy unanimous decision victory. In the co-feature, Jesse Magdaleno (13-0, 9 KOs) took care of gatekeeper-in-the-making Jonathan Arellano (13-2-1, 3 KOs) en route to a similarly lopsided eight-round distance result.
Ray Beltran continued to show why he is a genuine fringe contender at 135 pounds. With a patient, accurate, focused attack, Beltran constantly frustrated the Korean throughout the main event. Clean punch after clean punch crashed home, and only a combination of Kim’s steel chin and heart of a dragon allowed him to take punishment round after round. Indeed, the only respite came when Beltran “broke” his left hand (medical results will come in later, but “it’s broken” was Beltran’s exact choice of phrase to trainer Freddie Roach after Round 8). With only one hand to work with, Beltran was not able to be nearly as consistent in his onslaught, giving Kim the respite he needed to survive to the end.
Kim was not a pushover, however; indeed, in the first round Kim scored a flash knockdown, and had he not tasted the canvas himself at the end of that round, might have been able to make the scorecards a lot more interesting at the end—instead of winning a 10-8, he lost a 10-9, as Beltran clearly won that first round apart from the flash knockdown.
When the final result came in, the scores were 98-92 (twice), 97-94 for Beltran, with your columnist agreeing with the majority tally and returning a 98-92 card of his own. Ray Beltran needed another ESPN fight to establish himself, while the guy he beat to get on the map is looking at a minor title shot against Lucas Matthysse. It’s time to give Ray Beltran some love; the second act of his career may very well include a run at a world championship in the lightweight division.
In the co-feature, it was classic showcase matchmaking. Jonathan Arellano was a light-hitting, relatively unskilled guy nowhere near as good as his record, the perfect patsy for an unbeaten up-and-comer. Magdaleno should’ve gotten rid of this guy, but allowed himself to be repeatedly tied up due mainly to his wide, looping shots and inability to control distance. Throughout the contest, ESPN’s Teddy Atlas pointed out the myriad flaws inherent in the stablemate of Chris Arreola and Josesito Lopez; indeed, your columnist agrees wholeheartedly and looks forward to the very easy writeup that will be Magdaleno’s first knockout loss if he does not improve his technique before facing even a mid-tier contender at junior featherweight. There appears to be almost no scenario short of vast improvement that does not involve someone like Nonito Donaire or Guillermo Rigondeaux (who has fewer pro fights than does Magdaleno) simply mopping the floor with this guy.
The fight itself, after a pedestrian outing which did, to be fair, feature two knockdowns, went unanimously to Magdaleno, 80-70 (twice), 80-69. It is, however, a disappointment that in a dominating, one-sided laugher of a fight that Magdaleno was unable to close the show.
Finally, we got a swing fight. Puerto Rican 2012 Olympian Felix Verdejo (1-0, 0 KOs) came in and showed why he was able to make noise in the amateurs against Leonardo Chavez (1-1, 1 KO). Working his jab very effectively and showing the tools to get the job done at the pro level, Verdejo showed a good combination of applying pressure and boxing on the outside, although he did have a tendency to popcorn up and down on his feet when out of range, perhaps due to the adrenaline of making a pro debut on television coupled with the immaturity inherent in his lack of experience.
Chavez did get some very good shots in during the third round, however, winning it on the Boxing Tribune’s card and the card of one of the judges, leading to a final tally of 40-36 (twice), 39-37. Felix Verdejo is what he is; a guy with one pro fight. It was nice to see the beginning of the next crop of professional fighters; hopefully the wellspring of boxing talent will refill the TV slate and give us good fights over the next three years until 2016 once again leaves the best young fighters in the amateurs in Rio.
Friday Night Fights returns in earnest in January; Rances Barthelemy and Arash Usmanee are set to throw down January 4 in Miami. The Boxing Tribune will have full coverage when that fight comes around. For now, the Recap returns to its autumnal hibernation. Stay tuned.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and a pair of gaming headphones that doesn’t suck for Christmas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.