Last June in Omaha, lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs) made his long-awaited hometown debut on HBO, scoring a spectacular comeback KO victory over the previously undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa. The 27-year-old has fast-tracked through the 135-pound division, scoring three victories on HBO last year and adding a world title belt in March 2013.
Ray Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico is a formidable opponent on a five-fight winning streak. No stranger to the spotlight, the 33-year-old fought on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. undercard last April, winning a 12-round unanimous decision over Arash Usmanee.
The night from Omaha opens with two undefeated fighters hoping to become breakout stars when Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs) of Russia and Jayson Velez (22-0, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico clash in a 12-round featherweight title fight. Making his fourth title defense, the 28-year-old Gradovich has shown a willingness to meet anyone, anywhere, having fought three times in Macau, China. Like Gradovich, the 26-year-old Velez has a fan-friendly style that should make for a compelling encounter.
The telecast begins with a replay of the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri welterweight title fight from Macau that featured a dominant performance from Pacquiao in his 17th HBO Pay-Per-View event.
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The executive producer of HBO BOXING AFTER DARK is Rick Bernstein; producer, Jon Crystal; director, Johnathan Evans.
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