It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy, but Raymundo Beltran achieved his lifelong dream of winning a world title.
Headlining a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card in Reno, Nevada, Beltran edged out Paulus Moses to win the vacant WBO lightweight title by unanimous decision (117-111, 117-117, 116-112). Fightful scored the fight 116-112 in favor of Beltran in its live coverage of the fight.
The fight was a tough one for both Beltran and Moses, but especially Beltran in the early going. Although Beltran had dictated the pace in most of the early rounds, Beltran suffered a cut first near his left eye and then near his right eye later on. Moses, who came into the fight as a heavy underdog, managed to get some momentum in the middle rounds by landing several combinations, some of which seemed to have hurt and stifled Beltran's offensive rhythm.
It wasn't until a massive effort by Beltran in the 10th round where the fight started to tilt in the Mexican's favor for good, but Moses did provide more of a challenge to Beltran. On the stats sheet, the fight was fairly close, with Beltran outlanding Moses in total punches. Beltran landed 197 out of 678 punches (29 percent) and Moses landed 159 out of 622 punches (26 percent) according to Compubox.
With Beltran winning the WBO title, he could be in position to have a fight with one Vasyl Lomachenko, who appears to be moving up in weight for his next fight. Lomachenko, who is also promoted by Top Rank, is earmarked to fight next in May, but an opponent has not been named. Talks of having Lomachenko fight WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares in May seem doubtful at this point which could open up the possibility of Beltran fighting Lomachenko.
There's also the possibility of Beltran defending his title against former WBO mandatory challenger Felix Verdejo, depending on his performance on the March 17 Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at Madison Square Garden. Beltran won the title, previously held by Terry Flanagan before moving up to junior welterweight, in his fourth attempt after fighting Ricky Burns to a draw in 2013, losing to Terence Crawford in 2014 and winning the title in 2015 against Takahiro Ao only to have it change to a no decision after Beltran failed a drug test.