GLENDALE, Ariz. (Aug. 23, 2018) – The stakes are high for WBO lightweight world champion Ray Beltran and challenger José “Sniper” Pedraza, with the winner expected to fight WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year. Beltran and Pedraza met at the final press conference for the next edition of “Top Rank on ESPN”, which will take place Saturday evening at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona (10:30 ET/7:30 PST).

In the co-feature, Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe will make the first defense of his WBO junior featherweight title against Japanese challenger Hidenori Otake. And, in a six-round super featherweight special attraction, 2016 U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer will make her long-awaited ESPN network debut against former world title challenger Edina Kiss.

Here is what they had to say.

Ray Beltran

“Now I have the belt and people see me as a champion. But before that, I already felt like a champion. It’s good to get recognition from the boxing world, but like I said before, I don’t feel different. Things have changed around me, but I’m still the same guy. I’m a contender. I’m the underdog. Once you get the world title, there are new challenges. You’re always looking for the best challenges out there, and now I have a very important fight against a very difficult and tough opponent. In my mind, I don’t get overconfident. I get confident, but not overconfident.”

“In 1996, I came to the United States illegally. I did it, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. Thanks to that, I’m making my dream come true. I want to dedicate this fight to all of the immigrants all over the world, especially to my Mexican people. I represent them with so much pride. Just to show the world that we don’t come to commit no crime. We come here to get a better future for our family. I represent that. I represent the truth.”

José Pedraza

“It means a lot to me. This is the second opportunity I’m getting for a world title. I really want to win this world title because I want to bring happiness to Puerto Rico after what happened with Hurricane Maria.”

“It will be a lot of emotion and happiness for me when they say, ‘and the new champion’. but I don’t like to get ahead of myself. One step at a time, but if I win the title, it’s going to mean a lot to Puerto Rico. It’s going to bring happiness to my people.”

Isaac Dogboe

“First and foremost, I give all the glory to the almighty God for bringing me here safely and making me who I am today. Otake is a great guy, and I can’t wait to get back on ESPN. It’s a big platform for myself and also a great platform to showcase my talent once again. I want to say thank you to Bob Arum and Top Rank promotions and all the staff for putting this show together. It’s great. It is always a huge platform. Like I said, Otake is a great guy. Physically, he’s strong. This is his second world title challenge, his second opportunity, and we know he’s going to come out fighting. He’s going to come out guns blazing. But, you know, like we always say, we don’t have to get ready, we’re always prepared. Everything he brings to the table, we have an answer for it. Come Saturday night, you don’t have to stay at home. Everyone has to come down to the Gila River Arena. It’s going to be fireworks because there’s no way that something we worked so hard for is going to slip through our hands. He says he’s going to be fighting for his soul. I have no need for his soul because I did not create him. I just want to knock him out on Saturday night and retain my title.”

“Hidenori is very tough, and he’s a credit to Japan. He’s one of the guys who’s making Japan boxing rise. At this moment, he’s a stumbling block that’s in my way to get to a unification fight. We are looking to go out there Saturday night and put on a masterclass performance and look forward to unify the division, God willing. With Top Rank and Bob Arum, we can hopefully fight at the end of the year or early next year in a unification fight. Hard work never stops. Right now, our main target is to take care of Hidenori Otake.”

Hidenori Otake

“First of all, I am so very happy to be here. I want to thank Bob Arum and everyone at Top Rank for giving me this amazing opportunity. As you may know, in my first world title match in England {against Scott Quigg}, I lost. As happy as I am, taking that into consideration, I have trained very hard to make the most of this opportunity.”

ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET
Ray Beltran (champion) vs. José Pedraza (challenger), 12 rounds, WBO lightweight title

Mikaela Mayer vs. Edina Kiss, 6 rounds, super featherweight

Isaac Dogboe (champion) vs. Hidenori Otake (challenger), 12 rounds, WBO junior featherweight title

Tickets to this world championship doubleheader, priced at $125, $75, $50, and $25, not including applicable fees, are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the Gila River Arena Box Office, by phone at 800.745.3000, or online at

Use the hashtags #BeltranPedraza, #DogboeOtake, and #MayerKiss to join the conversation on social media.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ray Beltran and Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe will head to the desert this Saturday for their first title defenses.

In the main event at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, Beltran, who resides in nearby Phoenix, will defend the WBO Lightweight title against Jose “Sniper” Pedraza, a former junior lightweight world champion looking to bring another world title home to Puerto Rico. And, in the all-action co-feature, Dogboe will defend the WBO Junior Featherweight title against Hidenori Otake.

Beltran-Pedraza and Dogboe-Otake will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:30 p.m. ET, with undercard action streaming live beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. on ESPN+ — the recently-launched multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.

Tickets to this world championship doubleheader, priced at $125, $75, $50, and $25, not including applicable fees, go on sale Thursday, July 26 at 10 a.m PST. Tickets can be purchased at the Gila River Arena Box Office, by phone at 800.745.3000, or online at

“I’m living the dream. It feels great to be a world champion. I am very motivated to defend my title, and it’s very special to me because I’m fighting in my adopted home,” Beltran said. “Pedraza is a very skillful fighter and is going to bring his best to take the belt from us, but I’m not just fighting for the belt, I’m also fighting to keep it in Phoenix and my birthplace of Los Mochis, Mexico. This belt represents my family’s future, and it’s going nowhere.”

“This is a great opportunity and a great challenge. Beltran is a veteran and is finally a world champion after trying for so long,” Pedraza said. “I think for that reason it’s going to be a great fight because he will not want to lose the title. I’m 100 percent prepared for war.”

“I’m making my first defense against Otake, a Japanese warrior. It’s going to be fireworks,” Dogboe said. “I’m not stepping back. We’re on a quest to make this division exciting and great again. We’re shaking up the division. Isaac ‘Royal Storm’ Dogboe, you all know I bring lightning and thunder!”

“I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who made this fight possible. I am truly grateful for this opportunity,” Otake said. “In capturing the world title for my first time on Aug. 25, I’d like to show everyone that age does not matter. Since comments can reveal strategy, I can’t say anymore.”

Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) is a story of perseverance who finally broke through as a world champion five month shy of his 37th birthday. In his last bout, an ESPN-televised contest against Paulus Moses on Feb. 16 in Reno, Nevada, Beltran dug deep to win the vacant WBO lightweight title by unanimous decision. The scores — 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112 — did not reflect the back-and-forth nature of the bout. Once Manny Pacquiao’s chief sparring partner, Beltran had three previous cracks at a world title, most notably a 2013 draw against Ricky Burns that most ringside observers felt should have been a clear Beltran victory. The following year, he lost a wide unanimous decision to pound-for-pound elite Terence Crawford, who had beaten Burns to win the WBO lightweight crown. Beltran, a Phoenix resident who is originally from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, will be fighting in his adopted home state for the first time since 2005.

Pedraza (24-1, 12 KOs), from Cidra, Puerto Rico, is on a mission to become a two-weight world champion. A former IBF junior lightweight world champion who made two successful defenses of his title, he lost his belt via seventh-round TKO to Gervonta Davis in January 2017. Following a 14-month layoff, he moved up to the lightweight division and signed a promotional contract with Top Rank. Pedraza is 2-0 as a lightweight in 2018, winning an eight-round unanimous decision against Jose Luis Rodriguez on March 17 and a 10-round unanimous decision against Antonio Moran on June 9 as the co-feature to the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn welterweight title bout in Las Vegas.

Dogboe (19-0, 13 KOs) established himself as one of boxing’s best young champions in 2018 with a pair of signature victories. He knocked out Cesar Juarez in the fifth round on Jan. 6 in his hometown of Accra, Ghana, to win the interim WBO junior featherweight title. On April 28 in Philadelphia, Dogboe won the title in dramatic fashion, surviving a first-round knockdown to stop Jessie Magdaleno in the 11th round in a Fight of the Year contender. A 2012 Olympian, Dogboe had a rapid rise through the pro ranks, winning the WBO Oriental and WBO Africa featherweight titles en route to junior featherweight title contention. Boxing is in the Dogboe lineage as his father/trainer, Paul Dogboe, once served as a boxing coach and a physical instructor in the British Army.

Otake (31-2-3, 14 KOs), from Tokyo, has been a professional for more than 12 years and is riding a nine-bout winning streak dating back to Nov. 22, 2014. On that day, he challenged Scott Quigg for the WBA super bantamweight title, dropping a unanimous decision. He won the vacant Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) title on March 17, 2017 with a unanimous decision against Jelbirt Gomera. Otake defended the OBPF title three times, most recently scoring a 10th-round TKO over Brian Lobetania in Tokyo on March 13.



WBO junior featherweight champ, Isaac ‘Royal Storm’ Dogboe is sending out a strong warning to Japanese veteran, Hidenori Otake to get ready to be knocked out cold when the two clash in Glendale, Arizona three weeks hence on a Top Rank Promotions co-main event along with WBO lightweight titlist, Raymond Beltran’s own maiden title defence against Jose Pedraza.

A very confident Dogboe told a packed press conference in Accra about the great abilities of 37 year old Otake but insisted he will come out unscathed in what will be a first defence of the world title he won by destroying Jessie Magdaleno in Philadelphia back in April. 23 year old Dogboe (19-0, 12 KOs) has won four straight fights by stoppage since Filipino slugger, John Tabanao took him to the full 12 rounds in Accra exactly two years to his next fight date, 26 August, 2016. Since then, Juan Evaristo Aristule, Javier Chacon, Cesar Juarez and of course Jessie Magdaleno have all failed to last the distance with Dogboe in what were also the four most crucial fights of his professional career and he has marked Otake to be the next victim.

The young Ghanaian warrior, flanked by his dad/trainer, Paul Dogboe as well as his 13 year old kid brother with whom he often spars, Josiah at the plush Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in the Ghana capital, nevertheless spoke nicely about and paid glowing tribute to his opponent on August 25 in the USA after personally saying the opening prayer to bell off the media briefing.

“I can sit here and tell you everything that I’m going to do this to Otake, I’m going to knock him out, which I will knock him out, there is no doubt about that but you can’t take nothing away from Hidenori Otake,” Isaac Dogboe began.

“It’s going to be fireworks, we call it the rumble in the desert, I can’t wait. Otake is in real trouble even though we don’t take him lightly. The guy is a nice guy but those kind of quiet people are the ones you have to look out for. I saw his last fight and he’s got a deadly right hand but we believe that we will take him back to the basics,” Isaac Dogboe explained.

“He is an avoided fighter by many champions, 36 fights, 31 wins, 37 years, 14 KOs, 2 losses, 3 draws. He hasn’t lost a fight in 4 years, 9 wins in four years, 5 by way of knockout. So you have to understand that the guy is a compact fighter, he’s strong, we are not taking him lightly,” Dogboe read out the entire stats on his upcoming opponent.

He however made it clear that facing and conquering troubles like the one presented in the form of Hidenori Otake is the hallmark of Team Dogboe and one which they are not relenting on come August 25 on the Top Rank collaborated show with his father’s Rising Star Africa Promotions to be screened live on ESPN.

“The thing with us is that the people many champions are willing to avoid, those are the people we want to fight. We want the people to know that we are a different breed, that wherever we go we take charge, we take control of the place. That is the place we want to be at because when we are able to overcome these challenges, these adversaries, that’s what makes us great,” the WBO junior featherweight king stated.

“I believe I was born to overcome adversity. All the opponents I’ve faced during my career, they’ve all been credible fighters. Opponents that people always said that I’m too young, it’s too early in my career to fight them.

“A lot of people have criticised my father for putting me against those people but we have always risen against those odds and we have overcome those adversaries and Otake is also going to fall,” Dogboe affirmed.

WBO world title challenger Hidenori Otake (31-2-3, 14) [大竹 秀典] held a press conference at the Yokohama brewery to announce, and to talk about, his upcoming bout with WBO Junior Featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe (19-0, 13), set to take place on August 25th in the US.(Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona)

The Japanese fighter spoke about how he’s enjoying boxing more in the last year or so, and despite being 37 it does seem like he’s in the form of his career with recent wins over Kinshiro Usui, Hinata Maruta and Brian Lobetania. That sort of run will have filled the OPBF Super Bantamweight champion with real hope ahead of the bout with Dogboe.

Since losing to the then WBA champion Scott Quigg in 2014 Otake has surged, winning 9 in a row. That seems to have been down to his trainer who has focused on Otake’s physical improvements and improving his eating habits, as well reducing his working hours in preparation to fights. Something that seems to have done him the world of good.

​Otake seemed fully aware of Dogboe’s strengths, and is looking to work on counter measures for the power and speed of the champion. It seems clear he knows he’s the under-dog, though if he can win he would set a new Japanese male record, for the oldest man to win a world title, breakign the previous record of Hozumi Hasegawa, who claimed his third title at the age of 35 years and 9 months.

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