The road to lightweight supremacy continues Friday at Pechanga Resort Casino when IBF world lightweight champion Richard Commey (28-2, 25 KOs) makes the first defense of his title against former lightweight world champion Ray Beltran (36-8-1, 22 KOs).
The winner of Commey-Beltran is expected to fight the winner of the July 19 IBF title eliminator featuring unbeaten sensation Teofimo Lopez and Japanese veteran Masayoshi Nakatani. The winner of this de facto tournament could conceivably face unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko for all four lightweight belts in early 2020.
Beltran lost his WBO lightweight title to Jose Pedraza last August, but rebounded to stop unbeaten super lightweight contender Hiroki Okada in February.
Commey knocked out Isa Chaniev in two rounds Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas, to pick up the vacant title.
In the co-feature, 154-pound slugger Carlos Adames (17-0, 14 KOs) will defend his NABO and NABF belts in a 10-rounder versus upstart Patrick Day (17-2-1, 6 KOs).
At Wednesday’s final press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.
“Being a world champion is great. I went back home, and everyone welcomed me at the airport. It was like a hero’s welcome. It was unbelievable. I just thank God for that.”
“Every time I prepare for a fight, I don’t try to knock my opponent out. I just work hard, and it always comes as a bonus. My head trainer, Andre Rozier, always pushes me. I never try and knock out my opponent. It comes when it comes. I believe he’s a strong guy, a tough guy, and so am I. It’s going to be a good fight, but I’m the champion, and I’m going to keep my belt.”
On fighting at the top of the sport after nearly 20 years as a pro
“I feel like I made it the hard way. Even when the sport or the boxing world didn’t believe in me, that’s when I had to believe in myself. I think that’s why I am here. I’ve been counted out. People doubted me. I think 10 years ago, boxing experts and matchmakers didn’t even think I was a top-10 fighter. Nobody gave me an opportunity. I had to go and take it. Here we are. I became a world champion, and I am fighting for another world title. It’s not about if people believe in you. You must believe in yourself.”
“I don’t want to prove nobody nothing. I want to prove to myself that it’s about what I can do. I’ve been doubted most of my career, and it doesn’t matter how much I do or what I accomplish. It’s never enough, so I’m not worried about it.”
“I came from a really rough childhood. There was no hope. I was never satisfied with what life put in front of me. The saying, ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ I say, ‘F**K that!’ I don’t want to get lemons. I want to get what I want from life. That’s my mentality.”
ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
– Richard Commey (champion) vs. Ray Beltran (challenger), 12 rounds, Commey’s IBF lightweight world title
– Carlos Adames vs. Patrick Day, 10 rounds, Adames’ NABO and NABF super welterweight titles
ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
– Saul Rodriguez vs. Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 10 rounds, super featherweight
– Junior Fa vs. Dominick Guinn, 10 rounds, heavyweight