Beltran (32-7-1, 20 KO’s) and Jonathan Maicelo (25-2, 12 KO’s) were set to face off in an IBF World Lightweight title eliminator, with the winner earning a future title shot in the 135-pound division. For Beltran, 35, it was almost definitely his last opportunity at a world title.
However, two days prior at the final press conference before fight night, highlighted by a Terence Crawford-Felix Diaz main event, Beltran revealed that the circumstances for his pending bout with Maicelo ran deeper than one would know on the surface.
Not only did Saturday mean one last crack at boxing glory, but for Beltran, who was born and raised in Los Mochis, Mexico, it meant that he could obtain his green card and have his United States immigration status approved.
“Winning this fight I think will put me in a position to get my green card,” said Beltran, who has a wife and three children, at Thursday’s final presser. “So when I get my green card, I’m gonna go to Trump Tower and walk with it in my hand.”
On fight night, Beltran was knocked down in the first round by an accidental head butt, which gave his opponent Maicelo an ugly and noticeable gash on the left side of the top of his head, giving the Peruvian native a great sense of urgency.
In round two, Maicelo seemed to have the edge, until Beltran rocked him to sleep with a booming left hook, winning by knockout and subsequently expressing concern for Maicelo who was rushed to Bellevue Hospital after being taken out on a stretcher.
An uneasy Beltran was simultaneously impassioned.
“I’m emotional, you know?” he said after the victory, fighting back tears. “I feel very happy and I can’t express my feelings right now.
“Even though we fight, I never really expect to hurt my opponent,” Beltran added. “I wish no harm, that’s what we do, but I really felt bad because I didn’t expect him to go down that badly.”
The aforementioned Crawford was the night’s headliner, and was the man who gave Beltran his last loss in November 2014. Now Beltran may have turned his whole life around with one left hook.
“I’m making my dreams come true from my hard work,” he said, eyes watering. “I want to fight anybody in the lightweight division. Any champion that is brave enough to fight me, I’m ready.”
Afterward, Crawford (30-0, 21 KO’s) defended his WBO and WBC Super Lightweight Championships against the only Olympic Gold Medalist in the boxing history of the Dominican Republic, the previously mentioned Diaz, who had a record of 19-1 with nine knockouts prior to fight night.
He posed no threat to the perennial pound-for-pound pugilist from Omaha, Nebraska, who systematically broke down Diaz , forcing a stoppage after 10 rounds.
Crawford, regarded as one of the best switch hitters in the game, is listed primarily as an orthodox fighter, but battered Diaz from a southpaw stance for all 10 rounds.
Diaz himself is a full-time southpaw.
“I came out southpaw because I do what I want in there, it’s my ring,” Crawford said bluntly, afterward.
This caps off a recent string of performances where Crawford has blazed through nearly the entire 140-pound division, in a level of dominance mirroring Roy Jones, Jr.’s run as the best boxer in the world from the mid-1990’s through 2004.
Speaking of the best, which is what Crawford may be, but that’s also who he wants.
Since 2015 there have been rumblings of a potential showdown with Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers of this generation, and perhaps of all-time. Pacquiao, who will fight undefeated Australian Jeff Horn on July 2, turns 39 in December, but is still an elite fighter, and the current WBO Welterweight champion of the World.
“Pacquiao,” responded Crawford when asked what he wants next. “That’s the only fight out there we’re really looking for, if not, [Julius] Indongo’s here.”
As for the Crawford-Pacquiao fight actually taking place?
“Who knows, that’s not up to me,” Crawford said.