Winning is typically a cause for celebration. It improves a boxer’s record, it confirms their superiority over an opponent, and it may even result in a world title or two.
For Ray Beltran and Jose Pedraza, however, a win this Saturday will be something of a bittersweet experience. The good: it will deliver one of them a WBO world lightweight title (currently owned by Beltran). The bad: it will also lead to a December 1 unification fight with WBA champion Vasyl Lomachenko, perhaps the finest fighter in the sport today.
Beltran and Pedraza, of course, will dispute there being any downside to victory this Saturday night. They have signed to fight Lomachenko, 11-1 (9), in December – both of them – because they not only would like a bumper payday before Christmas but because they feel they can do the unthinkable and beat the gifted Ukrainian.
“The winner of that fight has signed to fight (Vasyl) Lomachenko – they have both signed,” Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum, told Boxing Scene. “Lomachenko has proven he’s a lightweight by beating (Jorge) Linares and now he’ll fight for another belt.”
The Beltran vs. Pedraza fight in Glendale, Arizona, already a good one, now has some added impetus. You could argue it will be a bit like Belgium vs. England at the 2018 World Cup, the game neither team wanted to win, but that would be cruel. Moreover, it would undermine the talents of one current champion (Beltran, 35-7-1) and one former champion (Pedraza, 24-1), who, if they don’t take the Lomachenko test, will never know.
Much like his fighting style, James Tennyson’s 24-bout pro career is a testament to perseverance and serves as a reminder to never give up. Best of all, following today’s news of a world title shot on October 20, it could receive its fairy-tale ending.
The 25-year-old from Lisburn, Northern Island, last seen stopping Martin J Ward in five rounds, has been awarded a shot at IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer at the TD Garden in Boston, and is understandably overjoyed.
“I’m over the moon,” Tennyson said. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this, so you have to snap these opportunities up; the opportunity of a lifetime.”
It hasn’t been an easy road to the title for Tennyson. Five years ago, ‘The Assassin’ was stopped in a couple of rounds by Latvian journeyman Pavels Senkovs. He then rebuilt, pieced a winning run together, only to lose again, this time against Ryan Walsh, when broken down with body shots inside five rounds.
It seemed, back then, Tennyson had reached his limit and achieved all he could hope to achieve from boxing. The fighter, however, had other ideas. Still young, still learning, he got back on the horse, smoothed some rough edges and has now won six in a row, five of which were secured inside the scheduled distance. In addition to beating Ward in a mini classic, a fight in which both hit the deck, Tennyson, 22-2 (18), has also got the better of Darren Traynor, Ryan Doyle and Declan Geraghty.
Twenty-eight-year-old Farmer, meanwhile, might not pack Tennyson’s power but is a skilful fighter with boxing skills to burn, and unbeaten since 2012. He too has had it tough. After three defeats and a draw in his first eight bouts, Farmer, 26-4-1 (5), somehow turned it all around and won his current title, the IBF super-featherweight belt, last month with a dominant decision win against Australian Billy Dib.
“It’s a very winnable fight,” said Tennyson. “I have watched his career when he was on the rise and I fancy myself to beat him. I’m really confident about this.
“I’ll have a good, hard training camp, go out and put on a performance, and I can see myself coming back with a world title. That will make training camp that much easier.”
The October 20 show in Boston is headlined by Billy Joe Saunders defending his WBO middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade, and also features Katie Taylor defending her WBA and IBF female lightweight titles against Cindy Serrano.