By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) successfully defended his title with a hard-fought eighth round stoppage of former WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran (36-9-1, 22 KOs) in the main event at Pechanga Resort Casino, Temecula, California. Although Commey knocked Beltran down four times in the fight, Beltran came back strong every time, even protesting after the final knockdown when referee Edward Hernandez, Sr. waved it off.
The 38-year old Beltran, a twenty-year veteran who had only lost four times in the last ten years, to fighters with a combined record of 87-1, looked old in round one, with Commey dropping him the first time with a left hook to the chin, followed by a right hook to the temple. Commey knocked Beltran down a second time in the opening stanza with two left hands, followed by a right hook that left Beltran sitting on the middle rope and prompting the referee to rule the ropes were holding him up. However, when Commey went in for the finisher after action resumed, Beltran showed tremendous heart in fighting him off and making it to the bell. Good two-way action in the ensuing rounds, although Commey remained in control.
Beltran went down for a third time in round five, when a Commey flurry along the ropes caused Beltran to stumble forward onto his knees, but again, Beltran fired back effectively when Commey tried to close the show. Beltran came back strong in round six with a renewed effort to Commey’s body as the two men fought evenly for the next two rounds. However, in round eight, a clean left hook dropped Beltran hard onto his back. Beltran again beat the count and was seemingly ready to continue, but the referee had seen enough, waving off the fight 54 seconds into the eighth round.
Win or lose, Commey would have retained the belt since Beltran failed to make weight.
Commey stated, “Beltran showed why he he was a champion. He’s a great fighter who showed it against me tonight. I was happy to get the job done and defend my title for the first time. It looks like Teofimo Lopez is next, but he has a job to do first. That would be a great fight.”
Beltran commented, “He caught me with a good shot in the eighth round, and the referee decided to stop the fight. Now I am going to get together with my team and figure out what’s next. If I fight on, I will move up to 140 pounds.”
Promoter Bob Arum said, “That was a great performance by Commey, who showed why he is a great champion. Beltran showed courage and resiliency. Teofimo Lopez has a job to do against Nakatani on July 19, and if he takes care of business, Teofimo will challenge Commey for the title in what will be a tremendous fight.”