Beltran at career crossroads after crushing Ao; Ponomarev wins
Lightweight star Ray Beltran should have been celebrating a first career world title on Friday night after the former Marine bludgeoned Takahiro Ao in just under four and a half minutes at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The 33 year-old was due to participate in his third championship challenge against his Japanese opponent until disaster struck at Thursday’s weigh-in and Beltran lost his chance due to coming in four ounces over the 135lb limit.
Ao, 31, was willing to continue with the contest as the only fighter able to claim the vacant WBO belt, although was blown out in the second round in what was the two-weight WBC champion’s fourth defeat, but his first via stoppage.
Beltran faced the agonising realisation that he should now be a champion upon completing his impressive victory and has to decide if he can still make his current weight or whether a move up to super lightweight is necessary.
In the Nevada chief support bout, Konstantin Ponomarev won a battle of the undefeated welterweights with a dominant performance against Mikael Zewski to improve his record to 28-0. Judges carded scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93 all in the Russian’s favour as Canadian Zewski dropped to 26-1.
Ponomarev has compiled his standout record at the age of just 22 and is highly touted by many in the know as a future world champion. On Friday’s evidence that’s rightly so as ‘Talant’ scored a fifth win on American soil.
Light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev and featherweight’s Jessie Magdaleno and Vic Pasillas all kept up their perfect records on the undercard.