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Richard Commey vs. Ray Beltran likely for June 28 on ESPN


By Jeff Aranow: IBF lightweight world champion Richard Commey will be making his first defense of his title against likely former WBO 135-pound champion Raymundo Beltran in the main event on June 28 on a Top Rank Boxing card on ESPN at the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, California, according to Dan Rafael.

The Commey (28-2, 25 KOs) vs. Beltran (36-8-1, 22 KOs) fight is being finalized. The winner of this Commey-Beltran fight is expected to defend against the winner of the July 19 IBF title eliminator fight between Teofimo Lopez and Masayoshi Nakatani. The winners of those two fights could take place in December.

Top Rank promotes both Commey and Beltran, so it’s a fight that is a doable one. Beltran recently lost his WBO lightweight title to Jose Pedraza by a 12 round unanimous decision last August in a close fight. However, Beltran bounced back from that loss to defeat previously unbeaten Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13 KOs) by a ninth round knockout earlier this year on February 10 in Fresno, California. Top Rank is well stocked at lightweight.

Besides Commey, Beltran and Pedraza, they also promote Teofimo and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Top Rank has got a lot of chess pieces to play with at 135, as well as at 175 with Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sullivan Barrera, Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez and Sergey Kovalev. The World Boxing Council ordered Lomachenko, who already holds the WBA and WBO lightweight titles, to face #1 WBC Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC 135-pound title. If Lomachenko wins the WBC title, and Teofimo captures the IBF belt, then Top Rank will setup a unification in early 2020 with all the lightweight titles on the line.

Beltran about to turn 38 in July, but he’s still fighting at a high level. His punching power is still very much there. Before Beltran’s loss last year to Pedraza, he’d won his last six fights. The only times during Beltran’s long 20-year pro career where he had huge problems was in his losses to Terence Crawford, Jose Pedraza, Steve Trumble, and Ammeth Diaz. Beltran’s other defeats as a pro were competitive fights in which he was beaten by Luis Ramos Jr., Sharif Bogere, Agnaldo Nunes and Victor Manuel Mendoza.

Beltran was arguably robbed in his fight against former WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns in September 2013. The judges scored that fight a 12 round draw. The fight took place in Burns’ hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. It appeared that Beltran had the fight by at least 10 rounds, as Burns suffered a broken jaw in the second round, and spent the last 10 rounds holding and moving to keep from getting hit by Beltran.

Commey vs. Beltran is a difficult fight to predict. Commey, 32, is younger, faster and the bigger puncher than Beltran, but he struggles against pressure fighters. Beltran is an excellent pressure fighter with a powerful left hook, and a good chin. Commey has lost in the past to Denis Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr. in consecutive loses in 2016. Commey has won his last four fights since his defeat to Shafikov.

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