GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It took Raymundo Beltran four tries and 19 years to finally win an elusive lightweight world title, but it was a fleeting reign -- a mere six months.
Jose "Sniper" Pedraza came to Beltran's home region, knocked him down in the 11th round and dethroned him by unanimous decision in a bloody, action-packed fight before 4,502 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card Saturday night at the Gila River Arena.
Not only did Pedraza, a former junior lightweight world titleholder, win 117-110, 117-110 and 115-112 to claim a second world title, he also earned a unification fight with pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko. ESPN.com also had Pedraza winning 115-112.
The Lomachenko-Pedraza fight is expected to take place Dec. 1 in the main event of an ESPN+ card at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
"What Pedraza says, and he may be right, is that he has the kind of style that is not a style 'Loma' is used to," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "He says, 'My style is the one style that can beat Lomachenko.' We'll see."
For Pedraza, beating Beltran was a huge victory following a rough patch in his career. He lost his 130-pound title by seventh-round knockout to Gervonta Davis in January 2017 and then was idle for 14 months before becoming a promotional free agent and signing with Top Rank. The company put him right to work. He won fights in March and June, and now he is back on top with another world title around his waist.
"We did everything that we needed to do to win this fight," Pedraza said through an interpreter. "We followed the game plan perfectly. I knew how tough this fight was going to be, and at moments it got very difficult, but thanks to the focus and the guidance from my corner, we were able to win round by round and get the win."
There was a prefight tribute to Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died hours before the fight from brain cancer. McCain was a lifelong boxing fan.
Pedraza and Beltran put on the kind of entertaining battle he surely would have enjoyed.
"Beltran is a really hard puncher, and I thought Pedraza fought a very, very intelligent fight," Arum said. "I just thought it was a very cerebral and intelligent fight. He was thinking all the time."
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Pedraza landed 160 of 556 shots (29 percent) and Beltran landed 137 of 515 (27 percent). Pedraza dominated in jabs, outlanding Beltran 62-18.
Despite chants of "Mexico! Mexico!" from the pro-Beltran crowd almost as soon as the fight began, Pedraza had a strong opening round as he found a home for his consistent jab to the head and body.
Pedraza continued to land as evidenced by the marks on Beltran's face in the second round. He was bruised and bleeding from a cut under his left eye and taking punches while not landing many.
Beltran, who won a vacant 135-pound world title by decision in a grueling fight with Paulus Moses in February, tried to exert pressure on Pedraza in the fourth round, stalking forward and looking to land body shots while also dabbing at the cut on his left eye. When Beltran got close, however, Pedraza tied him up and then slipped away.
The fight became more of a toe-to-toe battle in the fifth round as they exchanged big shots in the center of the ring. Every time Beltran landed, his hometown crowd went wild.
Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KOs), 37, a Mexico native who has lived in Phoenix for 16 years, was clearly trying to slow the quicker Pedraza down in the sixth round as he spent most of the round only attacking his body. Pedraza had abandoned his jab, and it was a lot easier for Beltran to get on the inside.
There were fierce exchanges in the ninth round. The blood from Beltran's cut was flying to the point where Pedraza's once-white ponytail holder had turned red.
Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), 29, of Puerto Rico, got back to his jab in the 10th round, but it was from his right hand because he had turned southpaw.
As Beltran, who was walked into the ring by Phoenix boxing legend and Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal, continued to pressure Pedraza, he took a right hand in the 11th round that sent blood flying from his face. Moments later, Pedraza landed a left uppercut to drop Beltran to his rear end. He easily beat the count, but Pedraza forced him to the ropes and landed several more punches late in the round.
"I thought it was a good, close fight. The knockdown made the difference," Beltran said. "I got caught with a really good shot. As far as the future, it's too early to tell. Pedraza fought a great fight, and all the respect to him."
Arum said if Beltran, who earned a $200,000 purse to Pedraza's $125,000, wants to continue boxing, he will have a home with Top Rank.
"He always gives good fights, so we'll put him in whenever he's ready to go," Arum said.
The crowd was on its feet as the 12th round began, but Beltran could not break through. Instead, Pedraza forced him to the corner in the waning seconds of the fight and clobbered him with several head-snapping shots to close the fight with powerful authority.
Then Pedraza had his hand raised, was awarded the title belt and turned his attention to the big fight at the end of the year with Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine. Lomachenko, 30, is expected to be ready to go after suffering a torn labrum in his shoulder during his lightweight title victory against Jorge Linares on May 12.
"Now I can talk about the future," Pedraza said. "I want to unify the division. I want to battle against all the champions. I want the big names. Bring Lomachenko! I have the perfect style to beat him."