Veteran lightweight contender Ray Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs) has officially been scheduled to take on Paulus Moses (40-3, 25 KOs) on a Feb. 16 ESPN card set in Reno, Nevada, RingTV reports.
The fighters, who are rated #1 and #2 in the lightweight division by the WBO, will contend for the sanctioning body’s vacant title, which will be Beltrans third shot at a world title. Beltran’s first shot at a major title ended up being a disputed draw against Ricky Burns, and in his second he was simply outclassed by Terence Crawford.
So they say the third time’s a charm, but for Beltran it may be more of a necessity. Beltran is currently seeking an EB-1 visa (extraordinary ability) in the United States and applying as a world titleholder would seriously bolster his case.
“It’s a weight on my shoulders,” Beltran, THE RING’S No. 3 lightweight, said last year. “I know once I don’t have a visa, it’s a lot of risk because if I got pulled over; if I’m not having a good day, police could call Immigration.”
Beltran, 36, is most recently coming off a majority decision win over Bryan Vasquez last summer, but reeled off four straight knockouts before then to put himself back in position for another world title opportunity.
His opponent, Moses, 39, is a native Namibian who has scarcely fought outside of the country. He’s on a three-fight knockout streak and currently holds the WBO’s Africa title — a regional belt.
As for the co-featured event, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum had been hoping to get Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs. Eleider Alvarez scheduled. That, however, is looking increasingly unlikely with Arum saying he doesn’t believe he’ll get that deal done in time to put it on this card.