The sport famous for comebacks is returning to Reno and ESPN.
A major boxing event will be held for the first time in the renovated Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino on Friday, Feb. 16. Headlined by the WBO World Lightweight Championship, the card also includes gold and silver medalists from the 2016 Olympics, a welterweight title fight and the second bout for Reno’s Ricardo Lucio-Galvan. Tickets — $29, $54 and $79 — went on sale Wednesday, Jan. 24. LINK
The Reno card is the first of 18 to be presented this year by ESPN networks in partnership with Top Rank Boxing, the two of which inked a four-year deal in 2017. Feb. 16’s event is promoted by Top Rank and Reno’s Let’s Get It On Boxing.
“They needed a home for this fight and it was really a perfect fit,” said Terry Lane, the co-owner of Let’s Get It On Boxing, which presented two fight cards in 2017 at the Reno Sparks Convention Center.
“You don’t see cards like this too often where you have four or five instantly recognizable names to any boxing fan,” he said. “To put an event on live ESPN prime time is something very, very special.”
Reno’s fights will be presented on the Friday night of the NBA All Star Game Weekend. The boxing will follow the NBA All Star Celebrity game. In December, an ESPN-Top Rank card followed the broadcast of the Heisman Trophy presentation.
The main event is Raymundo Beltran vs. Moses Paulus in a 12-round fight for the WBO Lightweight Championship, which became vacant when Terry Flanagan moved up to junior welterweight.
Another former WBO lightweight champ is Terence Crawford, now the undefeated junior welterweight champion, considered the third best pound-for-pound boxer by ESPN. In November 2014, Crawford won a 12-round decision against Beltran, who has since won four straight fights.
A native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, Beltran, 36, is living with his family in Arizona with a non-immigrant visa that is about to expire. He has applied with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services for permanent residency as someone with “extraordinary ability in professional boxing,” according to Beltran’s attorney, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“It is Beltran’s likely final shot at a title,” said Reno boxing analyst Simon Ruvalcaba. “He is a fan favorite and highly respected by colleagues.”
Beltran is 34-7-1 with 21 knockout victories. He earned the title fight with a majority decision over Bryan Vasquez in August. Beltran trains at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. He has won five straight fights since losing a decision in a WBO Lightweight title fight to Terence Crawford, one of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers and now the super lightweight champion by all four of the major organizations.
Beltran’s opponent also is a veteran, Paulus Moses, 39, of Windhoek, Namibia (40-3, 25 KOs). Moses was the WBA lightweight champion in 2009-2010. His last 14 fights have been in Namibia, and he’s lost just one on them.
“This fight means everything to me, a victory will also seal my green card,” Beltran said in a press statement. “For me to be world champion, and a citizen of this country, this is my dream. I respect my opponents always, but this is my destiny, and no man will get in the way of that. I’m ready to prove to everyone that I am the most dangerous lightweight in the world. When I leave Reno I am leaving as the WBO world champion.”
Like Beltran, the local pugilist on the card also has a serious fight outside of the ring. Ricardo Lucio-Galvan, 20, came to Reno from Mexico City when he was just 7 months old. He attended Reno’s Libby Booth Elementary, Vaughn Middle and Wooster High schools and is now a second-year business administration student at University of Nevada, Reno.
He trains at the Elite Boxing & Fitness Club, which literally is in the [pullquote]This is another dream come true. I never thought I’d fight in Reno, and now I will again, and it will be on a national stage on the undercard of a world title fight.” [/pullquote]shadows of the Grand Sierra Resort. Last October, he applied for his second Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, better known as DACA. Luico-Galvan is one of 800,000 “Dreamers,” whose legal status in this country could end in early March unless Congress acts.
While his status is perilous, the 126-pound featherweight finds solace in his situation because a newspaper gave him a boxing nickname: Ricardo “The Dreamer” Lucio-Galvan. When he won his profession debut in November with a first-round knockout at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, he said it was a dream come true. In his second pro fight, Lucio Galvan will face Kenny Guzman (4-1) of Kalispell Montana.
“This is another dream come true,” The Dreamer said. “I never thought I’d fight in Reno, and now I will again, and it will be on a national stage on the undercard of a world title fight. (The Grand Theatre) kind of reminds me of Madison Square Garden.”
Lets Get It On Boxing presented six boxing cards at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in 2009 and 2010. The Grand Theatre had a $10 million renovation in 2015. The venue is mostly used for music concerts.
A full fight card
- Top Rank Bout Sheet
4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, 2018
Grand Sierra Resort, Grand Theatre
- WBO World Lightweight Championship, 12 rounds
Paulus Moses, Windhoek, Namibia (40-3, 25 KOs vs. Ray Beltran, Pheonix (34-7-1, 21 KOs)
- NABF Welterweight Championship, 10 rounds
David Avanesyan, Sadovoye, Russia (23-2-1, 11 KOs) vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Oxnard, California (17-0, 14 KOs)
- Featherweights, 8 rounds
Juan Tapia, Brownsville, Texas (8-1, 3 KOs) vs. Shakur Stevenson, Newark, New Jersey (4-0-2 KOs)
- Super Featherweights, 8 rounds
Robson Conceicao, Bahia, Brazil (5-0, 4 KOs) vs. Jayro Duran, San Pedro Sula, Honduras (11-4-9 KOs)
- Heavyweights, 8 rounds
Bryant Jennings, Philadelphia (21-2, 12 KOs) vs. Ahror Muralimov, Houston (14-3, 11 KOs)
- Super Welterweights, 6 rounds
Sagadat Rakhmankul, Oxnard, California (pro debut) vs. Noel Esqueda, Wichita, Kansas (8-4-2)
- Featherweights, 4 rounds
Ricardo Lucio-Galvan, Reno (1-0-1 KO) vs. Kenny Guzman, Kalispell, Montana (4-1, 1 KO)
- Welterweights, 8 rounds
Wesley Tucker, Toledo, Ohio (14-1, 8 KOs) vs. Alexander Besputin, Oxnard, California (8-0, 6 KOs)
The co-main event is a 10-round North American Boxing Federation Title Welterweight Championship will feature Russian David “Ava” Avanesyan (23-2-1, 11 KOs) and Lithuanian Egidijus “The Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (18-0, 15 KOs), who is fighting out of Robert Garcia’s camp in Oxnard, California.
An aggressive, powerful fighter, Kavaliauskas knocked out each of his three opponents in 2017 and is ranked No. 4 by the WBO. Avanesyan’s biggest win was a decision over Shane Mosley. He lost his WBA welterweight title by a decision a year ago to Lamont Peterson. He won his last fight by a decision over Serge Ambomo.
Reno also is a special place for United States 2016 Bantamweight Boxing Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson. After winning three amateur national championships, Shakur made the Olympic team at the qualifying bouts in Reno. He was named Outstanding Boxer at the 2016 Trials in Reno, where he has never lost.
Like Lucio-Galvan, Shakur is a 20 year old who is now fighting in the featherweight division. He’s won all four of his pro fights, two by KO. Top Rank is fast-tracking Shakur, scheduling him for his first eight-round bout, against Juan Tapia (8-1, 3 KOs) from Brownsville, Texas.
Super featherweight Robson Conceicao (5-0, 4 KOs) is the first boxer from Brazil to win an Olympic gold medal. The three-time Olympian will face Jayro Duran (11-4, 9 KOs) from San Pedro, Sulia, Honduras.
An eight-round heavyweight bout will have Top Rank’s Bryant Jennings (21-2, 12 KOs) of North Philadelphia vs. Ahror Muralimov (114-3, 11 KOs) of Houston. Jennings, who is a vegan, appears in “The Game Changers,” a documentary directed by Louie Psihoyos. The movie tells the story of James Wilks — elite special forces trainer and winner of The Ultimate Fighter — as he travels the world on a quest for the truth behind the world’s most dangerous myth: that meat is necessary for protein, strength and optimal health. It premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Grand Sierra Resort is thrilled to host this exciting championship fight card and generate national TV exposure for the Reno-Tahoe region,” Christopher Abraham, VP of Marketing at Grand Sierra Resort said. “We are thrilled to work with such outstanding partners as Top Rank, ESPN and Let’s Get It On Promotions.”
Tickets can be purchased online at www.grandsierra.com or by telephone at 1-775-789-1115.
– Tim Parsons