On February 16th, Ray Beltran will make his fourth attempt a world champion when he faces former lightweight champion Paulus Moses for the vacant WBO 135-pound title. The bout will headline an ESPN telecast from The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada. Beltran is fighting for more than just a world title-- he's fighting for his green card. A victory over Moses would enable Beltran to obtain legal status in the United States, so saying this fight is a must-win is no understatement or boxing cliche. We spoke to Beltran earlier today and you definitely don't want to miss what he's got to say.
Greg Leon: How is everything going in preparation for your WBO title fight on February 16th?
Ray Beltran: "Everything is going good. I'm working hard and I just can't wait for the fight. I feel great, I'm just waiting for fight night."
GL: Obviously becoming world champion means a great deal to you, but there's more to it than in your case. Can you please elaborate on what else your fighting for?
RB: "A victory to me is a dream come true, but it's also a big motivation because I'm also fighting for my green card and winning a world title here would secure my status here in the United States. I have to win this fight, there's no other option."
GL: What have you been doing differently to make sure you walk away with the WBO title in your fourth attempt at a championship?
RB: "I have more experience now and that helps me a lot. My team has been great and I've made some changes on my team. My nutrition coach, my strength and conditioning coach are the same, but I've added some new people, smart people and I'm feeling way better than I used to."
GL: What do you know about Paulus Moses as a fighter?
RB: "I don't know much about him. I know he's a former champion, he's 40-3 and he's going to bring it all on fight night because whenever you get that kind of opportunity you fight with everything you've got."
GL: Other than victory do you have a prediction?
RB: "I don't predict, I believe I'm goin to win, but only God knows how. One thing I can tell you is that I'm going to do my best to make sure I please the fans."
GL: You hear that announcer say and the new WBO champion Ray Beltran, what does that mean to you?
RB: "Oh man! I've been thinking about it so much and it brings tears to my eyes. I almost cry every time I imagine it, I go to bed thinking it and wake up thinking about it."
GL: What are your thoughts on the lightweight division?
RB: "I think it's strong. I think the champions are all very good fighters. I think [WBC champ] Mikey Garcia is the best right now, I think [WBA champ Jorge] Linares is a very good champion. The IBF champion Robert Easter Jr is also a good fighter and a dangerous champion."
GL: There's been talks of Lomachenko and Linares. If that happens, who do you like in that fight?
RB: "It's a very competitive fight and a tough fight for Lomachenko, but I think he beats him. It's going to be a tough fight for him though. Linares is very skillful and he's a very solid fighter too."
GL: Based on what you've seen in Moses what do you think is your biggest advantage coming into the fight?
RB: "I got experience, I got speed, I got power I can box and I believe in myself. I don't pay too much attention in what the opponents do, I just believe in myself and in my abilities. I'm ready to go man, I can't wait."
GL: How do you feel about headlining on ESPN?
RB: "It's great! Finally I get a card on my own, I'm accomplishing my dreams."
GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?
RB: "I want to thank all my fans for always showing me support and believing in me. I will do my best on February 16th to bring you a good time and a good moment, so enjoy the show."