Tonight at 10 pm EST, Top Rank makes its debut on truTV with a world title fight main event from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, as Ray Beltran faces Takahiro Ao for the vacant WBO lightweight title.
Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KO) is coming off of a loss to Terence Crawford in November, with Crawford vacating the title to move up to 140 after that fight. Ao (27-3-1, 12 KO) is a former titleholder at featherweight and super featherweight, and has won four straight fights since a 2012 loss to Gamaliel Diaz.
There's also an interesting co-feature clash tonight, as unbeaten welterweight prospects Mikael Zewski (26-0, 20 KO) and Konstantin Ponomarev (27-0, 13 KO) square off in a 10-round bout. Quebec's Zewski, 26, beating Jeremy Bryan in his last fight in December, while Russia's Ponomarev, 22, last fought in January, beating Steve Claggett. Both fights were fairly competitive, with Ponomarev winning a narrow eight-round unanimous decision, and Zewski winning a majority decision.
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Ray Beltran defeats Takahiro Ao by TKO (1:29 of round 2)
Konstantin Ponomarev defeats Mikael Zewski by unanimous decision (97-93, 98-92, 99-91)
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ROUND BY ROUND
Ray Beltran vs Takahiro Ao
Round 1: First minute is a lot of herky-jerky motion and nothing big landing. Ao shoots a straight left that falls short. Heads collide hard with Beltran's skull jacking into Ao's chin. Left hook from Beltran. Beltran with a combo, and another left lands, and now he's throwing hard shots and landing on Ao, who is backed to the ropes. Ao holds on and gets out of there, but Beltran walking him down again. Jab exchange. Beltran slips a lead left. Beltran 10-9
Round 2: Down goes Ao on a right hand about 50 seconds into the round. He's up and Beltran is looking to finish early. Left hand and Ao is cut. Beltran just beating the crap out of Ao and Tony Weeks steps in to end the assault. Beltran TKO-2
Mikael Zewski vs Konstantin Ponomarev
Round 1: Jay Nady is your referee. Ponomarev shoots a couple jabs to start the action, Zewski pumping his back and then throws a left hook. Ponomarev with a right hand to the body. Zewski with a hook, meets mostly glove. Two shots to the body from Ponomarev, and then two more, a hook and a right. Right hand from Ponomarev slips in. Another one gets in, and a third glancingly lands. Zewski got caught inside there. Ponomarev landing more shots. Zewski's having trouble getting off when Ponomarev throws. Two more right hands. Another one gets in. Three jabs from Ponomarev. Jab to the body. Right to the body from Ponomarev, Zewski with a hook upstairs. Ponomarev 10-9
Round 2: Zewski with a left hook, and he's looking to get a little more active, it would appear. Shoots that same punch again. Two body shots from Ponomarev. Two more, one straying a bit low, says Nady. Ponomarev gets a jab in, then a right, then a body shot. Zewski misses on an uppercut. Left hook from Ponomarev, and then a right hand. Zewski touches canvas on a push, called correctly by Nady. Zewski with a jab to the body. Ponomarev's activity is giving Zewski fits. Heads clash a bit as they come together. Zewski misses a lunging hook. Ponomarev 10-9, 20-18
Round 3: Both jabbing to start round three. Clash of heads again about a minute into the round. Zewski really struggling to land anything clean. Jabs landing from Ponomarev. Left hook from Zewski, not a big shot, but lands. Ponomarev right back with one of his own. More jabs from Ponomarev, Zewski ties him up. Right hand from Ponomarev. Another one lands, and another gets in around the high glove. Ponomarev with a right to the body. Right hand from Zewski. Two jabs from Ponomarev. Right hand and a hook from Ponomarev. The fight's a little sloppy from Ponomarev, but he's the guy landing punches. Jab again. Another one. Ponomarev 10-9, 30-27
Round 4: Zewski hunting for a big shot, Ponomarev moving around the ring and keeping distance now. Nice body shot from Zewski, a left hook. Ponomarev with a right hand upstairs. Zewski's left eye marking up and swelling due to the jab of Ponomarev. A minute left in a fairly slow round for both, and Ponomarev throws four punches. Zewski with a left hook. Right hand from Zewski. Two hard body shots from Ponomarev. Ponomarev 10-9, 40-36
Round 5: Ponomarev just kinda having his way in this fight. Zewski isn't doing much at all to argue for getting these rounds. Zewski's left eye continues to swell up. Ponomarev's body attack has been key, as has his jab. Zewski really needs to turn this up and figure something out. Ponomarev with a charge and chases Zewski to the ropes, landing shots. Zewski gets away but still finding limited success. Good left hook from Zewski clips Ponomarev late in the round. Ponomarev 10-9, 50-45
Round 6: Zewski looks to get aggressive and gets stuck with a right hand that stuns him a hair. Zewski with a shot to the body, but again gets hit upstairs with a right hand. Right hand and a left and a right from Ponomarev, but Zewski lands a left hook in counter. Zewski throwing HARD shots now, and lands another good one. Ponomarev off balance and throwing, heads collide once again. Ponomarev now appears to be bleeding from the nose. I liked Zewski this round because he was more active and landed some really good shots. Ate a few, too, but this is the approach it appears he needs. Zewski 10-9, Ponomarev 59-55
Round 7: Right hand from Ponomarev, and then another. Zewski looking big shot again, but nothing landing there. Ponomarev in and out with the jab and the right hand. Right hand from Zewski. Ponomarev staying busy and landing shots, mostly pot shots, but shots that are scoring. And he's fighting at his range again. Long right from Zewski is short. Ponomarev back in control this round. Ponomarev 10-9, 69-64
Round 8: Ponomarev continues to dictate the pace and range of this fight. Zewski looking worse than I've ever seen him before. This is really a disappointing performance for him. Slower round and Ponomarev working the jab, which is the punch of the round here. Zewski just waiting so much. Right hand from Ponomarev stamps the round. Ponomarev 10-9, 79-73
Round 9: Zewski bull rushing more this round, but still not landing much. Ponomarev continues to control this fight. Both of Zewski's eyes swollen up now. Jab from Zewski. Ponomarev playing keepaway a bit at this point, and Zewski isn't forcing much more. Left hook from Zewski. Ponomarev 10-9, 89-82
Round 10: Zewski needs a knockout to win, and he throws a left hook that glances. Swing and a miss from Ponomarev. Right hand from Zewski. Ponomarev throwing at the same time, though, not allowing anything more. Half a round left to go. Jab from Zewski. Zewski lands a couple more shots. He's winning this round, but it's too little, too late. Ponomarev with a jab and then a missed right hand. Ponomarev to the body and Zewski sort of stumbles into him and ties up. Ponomarev looking to steal this round, too. No charity. Right hand and a left from Ponomarev. Right hand from Ponomarev at the bell. Ponomarev 10-9, 99-91