the night of the 27th July, Ray Beltran entered the ring at the Resorts
Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States, where he met rising
contender Hank Lundy on ESPN2's “Friday Night Fights.” Going in, Beltran
was expected to be game and put up a sterling effort before ultimately losing
to Lundy, who was performing in his home region and on a title charge. Over the
past year, Beltran (nicknamed “Sugar”) had lost razor-thin decisions to a pair
of unbeaten prospects, Sharif Bogere and Luis Ramos Jnr., in fights many
believed he deserved to win. It lead the 31-year-old to contemplate his future
in the game. He knew the Lundy fight presented a great opportunity and he
wasn't going to waste it, upping his record to 26-6 (17) with a majority
decision to claim the NABF lightweight title in the process. It's tough not to
be happy for Beltran, who has been on the wrong side of these sorts of
decisions in previous fights. While the win didn’t do much for him in terms of
his rankings among the sanctioning bodies, bizarrely, he’s still behind Hank
Lundy (ranked fifth) in the WBC lightweight rankings at nine (something that rankles
him, obviously). He currently occupies the number 10 slot with The Ring magazine.
AW - You return to action
on Thursday in Las Vegas, meeting Ji-Hoon Kim. What are your thoughts on
that fight and your opponent?
RB – Well, I think it's a risky fight
like any fight. He's a very tough guy; there's going to be a lot of action. He's
not the kind of guy who'll be running around. He's going to be there for me; he
comes to fight. I'm preparing very hard for the fight.
AW - Back in the summer, you
beat Hank Lundy. Can you talk us through the fight and how you felt it
RB - You know what? I don't know
why people were surprised about me winning the fight. If you think about the
two loses with Ramos and Bogere, I felt like I won these fights. It's not that
I lost; if they think of that as a loss, they didn’t see the fight. I think I
won the fights just because I didn't get the decision. I never doubted my
skills; I believe in myself, even if it's a hard fight. I want hard fights
because I want to prove that I'm capable to win and be a champion. To me, it
wasn't a surprise; I knew I could beat Lundy. I was just so happy they gave me
the decision. There’s a difference when you lose and when you get robbed. I
AW - When it went to the scorecards,
were you worried that in Lundy’s home region that you'd not get the decision?
RB - I stopped believing in boxing.
I've been the underdog; I've been on the wrong side of the decisions. When you
go to the other guy’s backyard, the other guy’s promotion, so many politics
involved; they have big plans. I knew I won but when you don't believe in
boxing no more, it's like I'm going to get robbed again. It's not I didn't
think I won; I won the fight and when they gave me the decision, I
couldn't believe it. I was like, ‘Wow, finally I got a fair decision.’ It
happens so much in boxing; you stop being disappointed. But God is great.
AW - It had been said that if you
hadn't beaten Lundy, you would contemplate retiring from boxing. Do you think
that pressure inspired you?
RB – Well, maybe it did. I made some
adjustments from the Ramos and Bogere fights, even though I believe I won those
fights. I made some mistakes; I could do better. I let the game get into my
head but this time I said, ‘You know what? If I don't win this fight or they
don't give me the decision in this fight, that's it. I’m done.’ ‘Cause I wasn't
going to play the role of steppingstone for nobody. I respect myself and I
don't want to lose my dignity. I won’t let anyone use me and the thing is, I
don't want to hate boxing. I didn’t want to live like that. I want to be in
boxing but I want to be happy and enjoy it.
AW - You train at the Wild Card and
have been a regular in Manny Pacquiao's camps over the past few years. Can you
tell us about this experience?
RB – Well, to me, it's like when I
was a child, I thought of [Julio Cesar] Chavez [Snr.], Ray Leonard, they were
my idols from another era. I never thought I'd train with one of the greats for
such a long time and be the main sparring partner. It's a dream come true. I
think it helps my career too, get my name out there. To me, it's one of the
best things in my life. He's a great guy; I'm just lucky and blessed. To me,
when I talk about Manny, he's a role model as a champion, as a person. I
respect him a lot; he's a great guy, very humble guy. He does a lot of things.
To me, it’s hard to pick one. He cares for my family and he doesn't need to do
AW - As well as Pacquiao,
there are other top fighters who work out of the Wild Card like Paulie
Malignaggi, Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr., Peter Quillin, Brian Viloria, Jorge
Linares, etc. Could you tell us about those experiences?
RB - To me, I can be like them, be
one of the top guys. In my case, I haven't been with the right people to put
myself up there. I think I'm a good fighter; I just need the opportunity to
prove it. They’re great guys. I work with them; I hang out with them. They
inspire me to be like them.
AW - Many observers thought you
beat both Sharif Bogere and Luis Ramos Jnr. What are your thoughts looking back?
RB - It's not their faults. They’re
fighters; they follow their dreams the same way I do. They just been with the
right people who manipulate the business. They didn't beat me; they were with
the right managers, people with influence. All they have to do is get the decision.
It doesn't mean they're better fighters than me. Nobody made me; I made my own
way. I opened my own doors; nobody opened the door for me. They gave me
nothing. That makes me stronger, more aggressive; that makes me a better
fighter. I'm the kind of person - the more I struggle, the harder I try. I’ve
no personal problem with them; it’s just business.
AW - You were born in Los Mochis, Mexico,
a known boxing hotbed. Could you tell us about your younger days and what it
was like for you growing up there?
RB - I grew up with Montiels, Arces
fighting in the tournaments. It was my hometown; I love my country. I know all
the champions there right now; we grew up together. I'm happy these guys are
representing my town. I want to be one of them; that's why I'm working hard. I
live in the U.S. right now; it's my second home. The situation’s hard back
home. I wish I could live there but I can't anymore. It's a better economy
here; my kids have a better future here, so I stay here.
AW - How did you first become
interested in boxing?
RB - My family, my dad was a boxer,
uncles, my cousins. I came from a family of boxers. I started when I was 14,
then I moved to the U.S. when I was 16. I made some tournaments. I've been the
underdog my whole life. Then I couldn't go to the Olympics because I was
illegal. I went pro when I was 18; I moved to Phoenix and then L.A.
AW - What do you enjoy doing away
from boxing? Tell us about your family, hobbies and interests.
RB - I love boxing. I love the
sport; I just don’t like the business. I like to spend time with my kids, my
wife, my friends. I’m picky on choosing the right people. I like to keep it
real. I just enjoy being with my family, take them out. I spend a lot of time
with my kids because some day, they'll grow up and be away from me. I’m a family
guy; I don't like to party.
AW - Outside of boxing, many people
see the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather and presume boxers don't
have to work day jobs. Do you now or have you during your career worked a job
as well as boxed? If so, what was it?
RB - I
started working since I was five years old. I've been working my whole life.
I've had a lot of jobs; I've been in construction, worked the fields, worked
doing anything. I'm lucky I have a friend, Ismael Vargas, outside boxing. He's
like an older brother; he takes care of me. Right now, I do personal training
on the side. Before that, I did construction, worked in a restaurant,
AW – Finally, do you have a message
for the lightweight division?
RB - What I want to say, I've worked
hard [Adrien] Broner, [Antonio] DeMarco, [Miguel] Vazquez, Ricky Burns -
anybody out there - if you guys call yourself real champions, fight real
challengers. I'm a real fighter. Hank Lundy was supposed to fight Broner; he
was [the WBC’s] number one [contender]. I beat him but I don't know how he's
still [ranked] above me; it’s ridiculous. I don't know how it is; that's why I
say I don't like the business but, hey, it is what it is. I'm still fighting;
I'm going to take the title from them. I'm going to do my best December 6. God