Photo Credit: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
The last time Ray Beltran appeared in the ring, he was flat-out robbed when he was given a draw against then-lightweight titlist Ricky Burns in a fight he seemed to have clearly won. This time around, the judging was more in touch with reality, as Beltran scored a unanimous decision win over Arash Usmanee in an entertaining twelve-round scrap.
Usmanee's awkward style – all loose limbs and constant movement – sometimes made it hard for Beltran to connect cleanly, but when he did, he landed with sufficient authority to show that Usmanee has a heck of a chin. Both men fought at a fast pace and between them threw well over 1,200 punches. Although Usmanee was more active, Beltran was the more accurate, the harder hitter and the man who forced the action. As the final round came to a close, the two men slugged at each other with abandon to the delight of the crowd, but as they hugged each other sportingly after the bell, there was no real doubt – beyond the usual concerns about the vagaries of judges - that Beltran was the victor.
Las Vegan super lightweight Jesse Vargas scored a unanimous 12-round decision win over Khabib Allakhverdiev to maintain his unbeaten record and end that of his Russian opponent. As is often the case with Vargas, it was a performance more workmanlike and technically proficient than exciting, but it was enough to turn back the pressure from the aggressive but overly predictable Allakhverdiev. The Russian had to cope with a bad cut over his left eye, and a swollen and closing right eye in the final third of the contest, but those were ironically the rounds in which he appeared to be the most effective. Most ringside observers saw him as the winner of a close decision, but Vargas' more varied offense and sharp counter-punching clearly caught the judges' eyes.
In the opening bout of the pay-per-view, Costa Rica's Bryan Vasquez outworked and outclassed Jose Felix, sending the Mexican to his first defeat in a twelve-round super featherweight bout. Felix began brightly enough, spearing the onrushing Vasquez with snappy jabs and sharp counter hooks; but by about the third or fourth round, Vasquez was neutralizing the counters with subtle head movement and a solid defense, and, applying constant pressure, was able to work his way inside and land combinations of short punches.
It was at times an odd fight. There were a couple of accidental headbutts, one of which raised a nasty welt by Felix's right eye, and the Mexican was guilty of several low blows and even a knee to the groin. The point that referee Robert Byrd deducted for that unusual transgression proved decisive; although the consensus ringside was that Vasquez had dominated down the stretch, two of the judges scored the contest 114-113, while the third saw it as 117-110 – the trio of scores enough to give Vasquez a deserved decision.