As had been anticipated, a February 16 ESPN main event between Ray Beltran and Paulus Moses is official, as the two will battle for the vacant WBO lightweight title in Reno, Nevada.
Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KO) is trying to win a world title for a fourth time, and the 36-year-old may not get another opportunity. In 2013, he went to Scotland and challenged Ricky Burns for this same belt, coming out with a disputed draw in a fight many felt Beltran deserved to win.
In 2014, he challenged Terence Crawford, who had beaten Burns earlier that year for the WBO belt. Crawford won a wide decision.
In 2015, with the title vacant, Beltran was matched with Takahiro Ao. Beltran missed weight, then had his TKO-2 win overturned due to a failed drug test.
Now, he’s got another chance at the same belt, now vacated by Terry Flanagan, who is moving up in weight to 140. Since the Ao fight, Beltran has gone 5-0, including knockout wins over Mason Menard and Jonathan Maicelo, and most recently, a majority decision win over Bryan Vasquez.
Moses (40-3, 25 KO) is a 39-year-old veteran from Namibia, likely receiving his last world title opportunity, too. He won the WBA “world” lightweight title in 2009 from Yusuke Kobori, defended it once against Takehiro Shimada, and lost it in 2010 to Miguel Acosta.
Since then, Moses has had one other world title opportunity, as he, too, faced Ricky Burns, back in 2012, losing a decision.
Moses has won five straight (with a no-decision in there when a fight was stopped on a cut in the second round) since a 2015 loss to Malcolm Klassen.
The show will also feature welterweight prospect Egis Kavaliauskas (18-0, 15 KO) taking on David Avanesyan (23-2-1, 11 KO) in a 10-round bout, plus the returns of Shakur Stevenson, Robson Conceicao, and Bryant Jennings.