Raymundo Beltran found himself on the canvas early in the first round, but after that was able to take over the fight and largely dominate en route to a 10-round decision win over Ji-Hoon Kim tonight at the Mirage in Las Vegas on a special off-night, off-season edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights. Beltran won on judges' scores of 98-92, 98-92, and 97-94.
Beltran (27-6, 17 KO) was floored on a clean left hook counter in the opening round, but roared back to dominate the rest of the round when he got his legs back underneath him, and evened the knockdown tally late in the frame, too, putting Kim (24-8, 18 KO) down hard on a left hook of his own. Kim was able to get out of the round, but would find himself battered and beaten up for much of the rest of the fight.
To his credit, Kim was as incredibly brave and tough as always, and he managed to go all 10 rounds, but Beltran was just the better fighter in there, and it wasn't particularly close. After the eighth round, Beltran told trainer Freddie Roach that he thought he'd broken his left hand, but he kept on throwing punches and winning the rounds.
Kim, 25, has basically learned on the job as a pro fighter. His improvements have made him much more than the all-or-nothing, one-handed fighter he was a couple of years ago, but he still is among the most easily hittable fighters you're going to ever see in a TV main event, and opponents are able to tee off on him at times. His punch output and power make him dangerous, but fighters as good as Beltran, who can survive quick scares like Beltran did tonight, are simply going to beat him pretty much every time out.
Still young, Kim has a chance to make improvements in his game, but he's probably hard-wired in a lot of ways. Truth is, he's going to come up short when matched with legitimate top ten guys, and at age 31, after battling and clawing his way up, Beltran is a legitimate top ten guy now at 135 pounds.
In the main co-feature, Jesse Magdaleno improved to 13-0 (9 KO) with an eight-round decision win over Jonathan Arrellano (13-2-1, 3 KO), who dropped his second straight. Magdaleno was mostly impressive, and it was a pretty good step up in competition for him. He put Arrellano down in the second round, and I had him winning all the way, though Arrellano did occasionally score with a counter left hook that caught Magdaleno a bit too anxious going for a knockout.
Also televised was 19-year-old Felix Verdejo, a super featherweight making his pro debut, fresh off of his strong showing at the 2012 Olympic games in London. Verdejo was impressive in London, showing real promise, but wasn't great in his pro debut, at least in the first eye test. He won a four-round decision over Leonardo Chavez, who came into the fight 1-0 and gave Verdejo a few good looks, and made the Olympian work for the win. Chavez might be a little -- or a lot -- better than was expected when the fight was made, too. He looked like he could fight. Verdejo got the win (and clearly deserved it), and that's really all that matters. It wasn't eye-opening, but he did his job, and he went for the finish in the fourth round. It just didn't happen.