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In a just world, Raymundo Beltran would have entered 2014 as the reigning WBO lightweight champion. Last September he went to Scotland, busted Ricky Burns' jaw and beat him decisively. Yet, when the scorecards were read, Burns retained his title on a draw.
I rank it as the worst decision of 2013.
Beltran is a longtime journeyman who came up in the sport the hard way and forged himself into a legitimate contender through years of dedicated hard work. His breakout fight was a July 2012 victory over the flashy Hank Lundy.
Beltran's original opponent for this fight was supposed to be former super featherweight world champion Roman Martinez, who lost his belt when Mikey Garcia knocked him out last year. But ESPN's Dan Rafael reported earlier today that Martinez is withdrawing due to illness and Boxrec already has Arash Usmanee listed as the replacement opponent.
If Beltran was the victim of the worst decision of 2013, Usmanee's unanimous-decision loss to Rances Barthelemy in January 2013 should be on the short list. A native of Afghanistan who now lives in Montreal, Usmanee is a fan-friendly fighter who is coached by the elite trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
Usmanee followed the loss to Barthelemy with a draw against Argenis Mendez in a bid for the IBF super featherweight title. I was ringside at that one, and while a draw was fair, I would have given the nod to Usmanee.
This should be a terrific fight. Both guys come forward and both guys have a ton of heart.