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Raymundo Beltran vs. Paulus Moses on Feb.16 for vacant WBO 135lb title

By Chris Williams: Raymundo Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs) will be fighting #3 WBO Paulus Moses for the vacant WBO lightweight title on February 16 on ESPN at the Reno Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. This is a Top Rank card. The co-feature bout on the Beltran-Moses card is still yet to be decided.

Promoter Bob Arum was looking for a way to place the light heavyweight clash between Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs. Eleider ‘Storm’ Alvarez in the co-feature, but that fight won’t be happening unfortunately. The Gvozdyk-Alvarez WBC light heavyweight title eliminator fight won’t be put together in time to take place by next month on Feb.16.

This will be the 4th attempt for the 36-year-old Beltran to capture a world title. Beltran came up short in his previous title fights against Ricky Burns, Takahiro Ao and Terence Crawford. Beltran-Burns fought to a controversial 12 round draw in September 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. 2 fights later, Beltran was beaten by WBO World lightweight champion Terence Crawford by a 12 round unanimous decision on November 29, 2014. Beltran’s 2nd round knockout win over Takahiro Ao for the vacant WBO lightweight title was ruled a no decision due to a positive drug test.

#1 WBO Beltran and Moses will be fighting for the WBO 135-pound title that was recently vacated by Terry Flanagan, who moved up to light welterweight to go after the vacant WBO light welterweight title that Crawford vacated last October. Flanagan will be fighting Maurice Hooker for the vacant WBO light welterweight belt.

If Beltran fails to win the vacant WBO lightweight title on this run, it’s hard to see him getting another chance. He’s getting up there in age, and the lightweight division is improving. If the WBO starts ranking better contenders, it’ll make it difficult for Beltran to get a 5th chance at winning a title if he fails to defeat Moses.

The 39-year-old Moses has won his last 4 fights since fighting to a no decision against Thompson Mokwana on June 11, 2016. The fight was stopped in the 2nd round due to Mokwana suffering a cut. Moses was beaten by Malcolm Klassan by a 12 round unanimous decision in March 2015. Moses also has past defeats in failed title challenges against former WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns and former WBA lightweight champion Miguel Acosta in May 2010. Acosta stopped Moses in the 5th round. Burns defeated Moses by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision. Moses has mostly been winning in the last 6 years of his career, but he’s not been fighting the best. The World Boxing Organization could have done better than ranking Moses at No.3. There are many contenders in the lightweight division that arguably deserve to be rated higher than Moses by the WBO. Luke Campbell and Anthony Crolla are just 2 examples of fighters that would likely beat Moses with ease, and yet they’re not ranked by the WBO.

Moses’ recent wins have come against these fighters:

• Saidi Mundi

• Crispin Moliadi

• Cosmas Cheka

• Thompson Mokwana

• Sadki Momba

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of any of those fighters. It would have been nice if Moses had beaten some better-known fighters, preferably contenders rather than 2nd tier opposition.

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