LAS VEGAS – Raymundo Beltran finished his strong 2012 campaign which saw him break into THE RING’s top 10 lightweight ratings, rising off the canvas to score a unanimous decision win over Ji-Hoon Kim on Thursday at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on a special edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Scores were 98-92, 97-94 and 98-92 for THE RING’s No. 10-rated lightweight.
Kim (24-8, 18 knockouts) dropped Beltran with a big left hook in round one and was unleashing after Beltran beat the count when Beltran landed a big counter left hook, wobbling Kim and turning the tide in the opening frame. Beltran, of Hollywood, Calif., then dropped Kim with a short left hook, causing the Korean banger to dangle halfway out of the ring while lying on the apron to punctuate the round.
Beltran suffered a cut left eye in the second round but continued to hurt his foe. He endured some shots with his back to the ropes, then bullied Kim into the corner and landed some debilitating punches while Kim, of Goyang City, Korea, covered up as the bell rang.
Beltran (27-6, 17 knockouts) did great body work during the contest, consistently landing left hooks to the midsection which made Kim wince. Kim, 25, didn’t help matters but displaying poor defense and little movement. He was more or less a stationary target for Beltran who had no problems connecting on winging shots.
Beltran, 31, methodically plodded forward as he threw looping punches that left himself wide open for Beltran’s timed counters. When Beltran realized Kim couldn’t land, he squared up and opened his stance to create more power opportunities. Kim absorbed a great deal of punishment, but never stop trying, to his credit.
The victory was Beltran’ second consecutive on ESPN’s flagship boxing series. Last time out, he scored the biggest victory of his career, a majority decision over Hank Lundy in July. In January, he barely lost a decision to Luis Ramos in a fight many felt he won. Heading into 2013, it appears the “Hard Luck” Beltran may be no more.
In the co-featured bout, Jesse Magdaleno outpointed Jonathan Arellano over eight rounds by scores of 80-70, 80-69 and 80-70. Magdaleno dropped Arellano in the sixth and poured it on afterwards but was unable to close the show. Arellano did have his moments and landed a few crushing hooks, but Magdanelo showed a good chin and secured some valuable rounds under his belt.
“It’s a big experience, especially from what I normally do, which is knock guys out in three or four rounds,” said Magadaleno, the younger brother of 130-pound contender Diego Magdaleno.
“I wanted to go eight rounds, I wanted people to see that not only am I a knockout puncher, but I’m a good boxer as well.”
Also on the card, Puertro Rican Olympian Felix Verdejo made his professional debut, defeating Leonardo Chavez (1-1, 1 knockout) by shutout unanimous decision.
Photos / Chris Farina-Top Rank
Mike Coppinger is a contributor to USA TODAY’s boxing coverage. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger