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Ray Beltran talks Paulus Moses, immigration, Pacquiao, and Lomachenko

Ray Beltran opens up about his personal life, his upcoming fight, and more.

Ray Beltran v Arash Usmanee Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

He is, I think, like so many of the immigrants I know, or come across in my neck of the woods, Brooklyn, and New York City.

Humble…not prone to boasting, or engaging in a whine fest…or grumbling about this inequity or that. Dignified, and not rollercoaster moody, because they maintain an attitude of gratitude, as they realize the breadth of opportunity here.

Ray Beltran came to the U.S. from Mexico, with the express purpose of elevating himself, making something of himself, to be a citizen that contributes to society, and benefit his community, and those who he comes in contact with.

OK, no, the 135-pound hitter won’t be looking to “benefit” Paulus Moses when he comes in contact with him, on February 16, in a Top Rank faceoff which will screen on ESPN. He will seek to get the better of Moses physically, apply pressure, and break him down. Beltran has had good luck in doing that, since turning pro in 1999. He won his last outing, getting a majority decision win over underrated Bryan Vasquez last August, and he told me that he’s confident that he can solve the puzzle that is the 40-3 Moses in Reno. And if he does, Beltran’s resume looks that much better, because he’ll have grabbed the vacant WBO 135 belt, and his case to gain a green card to stay here in the U.S. looks that much better.

Right now, Beltran (34-7-1) holds a work visa, good for two years, but he’s not complacent, not shrugging off the import of his quest to become a real-deal citizen of the America.

“I’ve given my documentation to immigration, everything looks good, looks fine, but we’re not done yet,” he told me.

Immigration is to set up an interview, he said, and hear why he’s a solid candidate to get that green card. As you might have heard, how the federal government is seeing and handling immigration has been in flux since this POTUS took office. Beltran came to the U.S. to seek a better life when he was 16, through the backdoor, from Mexico, so he’s not able to relax and see how it plays out, with an assumption that sanity and decency will prevail.

“The weight on my shoulders is definitely there,” he told me. Beltran said he isn’t angry when he hears about ICE targeting citizens who’ve been here 20, 30, even 40 years, as law abiding persons, and seeking to deport them.

“It makes me worried,” he said. “Not angry. I can understand if they are criminals. But people just working hard, for their family? Sometimes they are better citizens than people here. Here, people sometimes take it for granted. But I’m just a human being looking to make a better life.”

At 36, he’s far closer to the end of his pro career than the beginning, so that “making a better life” window is closing, through the avenue of the sweet science. That fight against Vasquez, Beltran said, he “knew it would be a tough fight, it was a very good test for me, and he’d give anyone trouble.”

I concur; we agreed that Vasquez is underrated, very clever, tricky, and skilled.

“At 36, I feel great, better than at 24. The experience, right training, very smart, we train smart,” he continued. “Past mistakes, I trained like in the Rocky movies. We don’t always listen to our bodies.”

As for the Namibian Moses, Beltran knows he’s a “former world champion, a tough guy, his style is he likes to keep at middle distance, he doesn’t really come forward or go back. Will I press him more? I must break his distance, be away or close to him, don’t be in his comfort zone.”

You might recall Beltran had a step-up fight opportunity when he took on Terence Crawford in November of 2014. Did he take anything from that fight which serves him now, does he view the fight differently now that Bud is a P4P bossman?

“Crawford is very, very smart, a skillful fighter when I fight him. He was one step ahead of me, it was very hard to get to him, get close to him. I was there and then they’d say, you’re not not letting your hands go. Crawford takes advantage of every little mistake. To me, it’s not just because I fought him, but everything he’s accomplished, he’s the best fighter in the world right now. I’m not the judge, but to me he beats everybody.”

We riffed some more. I asked Beltran, who’s been a faithful sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, what might happen if, as rumored, a Manny Pacquiao versus Vasyl Lomachenko fight gets made. Freddie Roach told me he likes it, and he doesn’t dig a Manny versus Terence Crawford tango. What does Beltran think?

“It would be a great fight, a very interesting fight if they make it happen. I think Manny Pacquiao wins. He’s used to fighting way bigger guys than Lomachenko. And Manny still got it. People fall too much into the social media thing, he was a lightweight fighting welterweights.

“Lomachenko is too small, Loma doesn’t have the power to stop Manny, he has the skills, but Manny would be too strong, too much intensity. Loma has been fighting small guys and hasn’t hurt them, he’s not gonna hurt Manny, or make him quit.

“Did Pacquiao show his age vs Jeff Horn? It’s my opinion, because I trained with him, he has a lot of things going on, and he trains the same way he did at 24. He could train smarter now, he over-trains himself.

“He’s been a lightweight fighting welters, if he goes to 140, he can make it easy, he can make 135! Some of those guys were naturally too big for him, Manny is a small guy. Would I fight Loma? I’ll fight anybody, I want to fight the best, it would be an honor. It would be a tough fight. Loma is used to fighting smaller guys, he’s smaller than me, and he’s lost. I’m stronger than Orlando Salido. I think I’d have a good chance to beat Lomachenko. My goals are the big names, Jorge Linares, Loma, Mikey Garcia, but I can’t think about them. I’m thinking Moses first!”

And he’s not just thinking about his own advancement. Beltran mentioned he’s excited about being involved in City of Hope’s fundraising and awareness campaign to lift up kids with diabetes and cancer.

Yep, the guy who came here through an unofficial channel is abiding by the law, contributing to the economy, and telling me he is “praying to God that he will be victorious, and I can be part of that organization and help.”

Me, I’m not seeing why this sort of person isn’t an asset to our nation. You agree, readers?

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