Next week in Los Angeles, three-time world title challenger and the IBF top-rated lightweight contender Ray "Sugar" Beltran will be defending his NABF and NABO lightweight titles against former two-time interim WBA super featherweight champion and current WBA No. 1 contender Bryan Vasquez (36-2, 19 KOs), from San Jose, Costa Rica.
Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs), a native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico who resides in Phoenix, AZ., was recently named the NABF Fighter of the Year. Beltran enters this fight having won his last four fights by knockout.
A former sparring partner of former eight-division world champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, Beltran still trains at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif. with Pepe Reilly.
As if risking his world title shot isn't enough pressure, every fight he wins gets him one step closer to a precious green card via the "extraordinary athlete" status needed to qualify for the EB-1 green card typically available to certain sportspeople, entertainers, and masters of the arts and sciences. Recently, Beltran has been in the U.S. under an athletic visa.
Top Rank stopped by Beltran's training camp at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif. Here are a few quotes and photos from today's training session.
“The plan is to knockout Vasquez. That is the goal I want to achieve to be able to get the big fight. I want to give the fans another impressive victory and make it clear that I am a world-class fighter.
“I feel very motivated. To get my green card is as important or more important than winning a world title. This is not just about myself, this is also about the future of my family.
“To fight on ESPN is a dream come true. In the past, all the big fights were shown on ESPN and now history its repeating itself. Now everyone will have access to world-class fights."
The main event will two-division world champion and pound for pound superstar Vasyl "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs), of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, who has won his last five fights by knockout, defending his WBO junior lightweight world title against two-time world title challenger and Top-10 contender Miguel "Escorpión" Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs), from Arjona, Colombia. Marriaga has won 15 of his previous 20 fights by way of knockout.
The four gladiators boast a combined professional record of 102-12-1 (67 KOs).
Both title fights will be televised live and exclusively at 10 p.m. EDT on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and stream live on the ESPN app.
Promoted by Top Rank, remaining tickets to the Lomachenko vs. Marriaga / Beltran vs. Vasquez championship event are priced at $130, $105, $80, $55 and $30. They may be purchased at microsofttheater.com, AXS.com, by phone at 888-929-7849 or at the Staples Center Box Office.