The final bout to feature an Asian fighter this weekend ended up being a fight that swung back and forth in what was a pulsating and genuinely enjoyable contest, even though it saw Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13) [岡田 博喜] lose his unbeaten record to former WBO Lightweight world champion Raymundo Beltran (36-8-1-1, 22).
The fight started in competitive fashion, with Okada boxing well behind his jab in the opening round, whilst Beltran brought pressure. It was a great round that saw both have moments, but didn't really serve as any notice for what we were going to get in the second round.
Round 2 saw Beltran pick up the intensity, walking through a number of Okada right hands and land a huge left hand to drop Okada, who seemed to be caught off balance more than actually being hurt. Okada would beat the count but find himself under intense pressure from the restart. That pressure saw Beltran have success, but eat a huge right that buckled his legs and left himself open to a big combination as Okada looked to force a stoppage. It was one of the rounds of the year, and saw both guys hurt badly.
Beltran would bounce back from being rocked to have a fantastic third round, pressurising Okada through the 3 minutes. Both men were cut, with Okada's looking the worse of the two cuts, and Beltran seemed to be easily dictating the fight with his pressure. The following round was another good one for the veteran, who continued to press the fight, cornering Okada several times, whilst neutralising Okada's jab.
Beltran had put a lot into the early rounds and in round 5 he began to look his 37 years of age. He was looking tired, taking his foot totally off the gas and Okada managed made the most of things, establishing his jab, and using his movement to take the round. Beltran again looked tired in round 6, a round that saw him staying on the outside, and almost fighting like he was trying to get his second wind. The pace had completely dropped from the early stages as both men changed tactics. The fight began to turn back around in the 7th round however as Beltran began to come forward again. Beltran's pressure didn't have the same intensity it had had earlier in the fight, but it was almost like he was moving through the gears again. By then Beltran's right eye was starting to swell shut, but he was getting his second wind.
Round 8 was a messy one. Beltran again came forward, but Okada neutralised a lot of the pressure with clinches, he knew it wasn't a good idea to trade on the inside. It was a messy round, but one that began to get more and more exciting as it went on, as as Beltran began to get more success from his pressure. That pressure really went up again in round 9 as Okada completely failed to create distance. Beltran would drop Okada with a hard right hand. This time he was hurt badly, and Beltran knew he had his man, unloading until Okada's team stopped the bout and saved their man, who had shown guts to stay up but had began to take huge shots from the Mexican.
For Okada this will be a huge disappointment. He looked better than he had on his US debut, but was unable to establish his range for much of the fight. For Beltran however this win opens the door to a potential WBC world title fight later in the year.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!