Last September, Raymundo “Sugar” Beltran traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to face WBO junior welterweight champion Ricky “The Rickster” Burns.
Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KOs) had dreamed of getting a crack at a title since he debuted in 1998. His long professional career was a good one. He was sitting on a winning streak of four fights in a row when he got his shot at the brass ring.
"I can't believe it's here. I honestly didn't think I would ever get one," Beltran told Dan Rafael of ESPN.com speaking of his shot at the title before the bout. "But now that's it here I know I am ready to become a world champion."
Beltran was aware that most boxing fans recognize him as the main sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao. He’s ok with that. He likes Pacquiao. But Beltran had something to prove that night in Glasgow.
Champion Burns (36-2-1, 11 KOs) was defending his WBO junior welterweight title for the fifth time. He was confident, as were his admirers. Most expected Beltran to be easy pickings for “The Rickster.“
But they don't know Beltran. He was on a mission. And after 12 rounds of boxing, virtually all who witnessed the bout believed he had proved he deserved the decision.
Burns couldn't keep the determined Beltran off him. He tried to box his much stronger opponent, but had little success after the second round. Beltran pressed the action and went to the body. His thudding punches hurt the champion.
Even Burns‘ hometown crowd was resigned to their hero’s defeat. Beltran was able to land the harder, cleaner shots, flooring Burns in round eight. To his credit, Burns soldiered on after suffering a broken jaw in the second stanza, but it was Beltran who consistently outworked him.
As the scores were announced – 115-112 Burns, 115-113 Beltran and 114-114 a draw – the crowd jeered. Burns left the ring with his title belt, while Beltran left dazed, but not necessarily surprised.
Doghouseboxing scored the fight 116-112 for Beltran.
There was immediate talk of a rematch. But that’s all it turned out to be.
Burns is set to face Terence Crawford March 1 in Scotland.
Beltran hasn’t fought since, but his popularity continues to rise.
Having his dream snatched away was a bitter pill to swallow, but Beltran can hold his head up high.