Former two-time WBO super featherweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez has dropped out of his co-feature bout against lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran for this Saturday’s HBO pay-per-view card headlined by Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Martinez is ill, and there’s no way he can take the fight under those conditions.
So instead of Martinez fighting Beltran, another super featherweight, Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KO’s), has been substituted in Martinez’s place for the co-feature. It’s unclear why Top Rank is matching Beltran against super featherweights instead of fighters from the lightweight division, but I guess the boxing fans paying to see the card on PPV won’t know and won’t care. Roman Martinez is a super featherweight as well, and he was coming off of a knockout loss to Mikey Garcia.
It would be better for Beltran to be facing guys from his own division in order to get him ready for a title shot against unbeaten WBO lightweight champion Terrence Crawford, but in terms of it affecting this Saturday’s fight card, it won’t matter. Bob Arum of Top Rank could probably match Beltran a flyweight and the casual boxing fans wouldn’t take notice. The main thing they care about is seeing the Pacquiao-Bradley 2 fight, and the rest of the fights on the card are just window dressing. Fight fans are basically just interested in the Pacquiao-Bradley 2 fight. It would be nice if the card were reduced in price due to the lack of a quality undercard, but Top Rank doesn’t have to do that. There will be enough fight fans interested in seeing the Pacquiao-Bradley 2 fight to make up for the lack of appealing fights on the undercard.
Usmanee, 32, was recently beaten by Rances Barthelmy last year in January in losing a 12 round decision. In his last fight, Usmanee fought to a 12 round draw against Argenis Mendez. None of this matters because he’s a substitute, and most boxing fans won’t likely care.
Beltran fought to a controversial 12 round draw against former WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns last September. There had been talk of the two facing each other in a rematch, but instead Burns was ordered to face Terrence Crawford. Burns lost that fight by a 12 round decision.
The rest of the undercard fights for this Saturday are nothing much to get excited about, to be honest. You have Bryan Vasquez facing Jose Felix Jr, Khabib Allakhverdiev defending his WBA 140lb title against Jesse Vargas, and a number of other fights that won’t make it on the televised portion of the card. Not real interesting stuff.
Obviously Arum is counting on fans purchasing the fight card just to see the Pacquiao-Bradley 2 rematch, but if he’s wrong and fans do actually care about the undercard, then this card will do very poorly because the undercard is lacking to the extreme. Beltran vs. Usmanee is a fight that I would expect to see on ESPN2, not only as a co-feature on a PPV card.
photo: Rich Graessle/Main Events