Top Rank on ESPN Betting Preview: Ramirez vs Zepeda & Beltran vs Okada

by Rick Rockwell
on February 8, 2019

Minute Read

On February 10th, ESPN will broadcast a rare Sunday edition of Top Rank boxing live from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Ca. The feature contest of the night is a WBC super lightweight championship fight featuring Jose Ramirez defending his title against Jose Zepeda. In the co-main event of the day, former world champ Ray Beltran will take on undefeated prospect Hiroki Okada in a second super lightweight fight.

There are nine fights scheduled for this event. The undercard will begin streaming on ESPN+ beginning at 4 PM ET. The main card of the night will air live on ESPN beginning at 7 PM ET.

Let’s check the boxing betting sites for the latest odds, look for the best betting value, and KO our picks.

Ray Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KOs) vs Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13 KOs)

  • Ray Beltran (-380)
  • Hiroki Okada (+315)

Okada offers some intriguing betting value in this fight. Beltran is a former champ, but at the age of 37, people are questioning if he’s still a top contender. Additionally, he’s coming up five pounds for this fight. Okada is a top 10 contender for every major title in this division.

According to 5Dimes, the Over/Under is set at 7.5 rounds with the Over being the favorite at -395 and the Under listed at +275.

Beltran vs Okada Preview

Boxer Ray Beltran Hiroki Okada
Age 37 29
Height 5’8” 5’9”
Reach 67”
Total Fights 44 19
Record 35-8-1 19-0
Knockouts 21 13

This 10-round super lightweight contest features two fighters hoping to take one step closer to a title fight with a win this weekend. Undefeated Japanese fighter Hiroki Okada acknowledged this in a recent press conference:

“To challenge for the world title, I’ve got to beat Beltran. As a former world champion, I know he’s highly skilled. I know he’s tough, so I’ll be prepared for a good fight. It’s an honor to be able to fight him, and I’m confident that I will win. I’ve watched his fights on video, and I believe in my power coming into this fight.”

Okada debuted in the United States last September, and he fought at the same venue as this weekend’s bout – Save Mart Arena in Fresno, CA. Okada has quickly worked his way up the division and could really crack the upper echelon with a big win on Sunday.

At 37, Beltran feels healthy and energized. He’s excited for what 2019 brings and is committed to winning a championship title again. However, after losing his last fight and the WBO lightweight title, Beltran has gone up a division and hopes to win a belt at the 140-pound weight class.

“If it’s at 140, then I will be a two-division world champion, and if it’s at 135, then I will be a two-time lightweight champion. I will leave that to Top Rank and my manager, Steven Feder… I’m a boxer, I’m a prizefighter, and that’s what my fans will see Feb. 10.”

Who Wins: Beltran or Okada?

This is going to be an exciting fight, especially for bettors. In one corner, we have the aged veteran looking for another chance at championship glory. And, in the other corner, we have a contender that could jump to the front of the line for a shot at one of the division’s major titles if he can get the win on Sunday.

Last year, Beltran won the WBO title in February only to lose it in August. Beltran claims that he wasn’t at full health during those two world title fights. He will need to be at full health this weekend against Okada if he hopes to win. It took Ray three tries before he won his first world title. With age starting to work against him, I expect Beltran’s desperation to increase in 2019.

For Okada, I have a hard time taking some of his competition seriously. He did defeat Coria in his last fight, but it was via split decision. Additionally, Coria isn’t that great (28-7-2, 12 KOs). In fact, Coria is on the undercard of this event as he fights Joel Diaz Jr. Coria, who happens to be the biggest underdog of the night.

There are two plays for this fight. The first one is the Over 7.5 rounds (-395). In Beltran’s 44 career fights, nearly half (20) of them have gone the distance. For Okada, 6 of his 19 pro fights have gone the distance. With that said, I believe this fight will go the scorecards. At the very least, we will see the later rounds.

I believe Beltran is still the better fighter between these two combatants, even though he’s eight years older than Okada. Hiroki hasn’t fought anyone notable, and Beltran’s resume is littered with top fighters. I’m taking the old man to win via unanimous decision.

Boxing Bet: Ray Beltran (-380), Over 7.5 rounds (-395)

Jose Ramirez (23-0, 16 KOs) vs Jose Zepeda (29-1, 24 KOs)

  • Jose Ramirez (-750)
  • Jose Zepeda (+525)

According to 5Dimes, Ramirez is a big betting favorite. This is largely due to his career success and fighting in front of his hometown crowd for a second straight fight. However, I do give Zepeda a “puncher’s chance.” If you’re looking for a risky flyer, then you might want to consider Zepeda.

The Over/Under is set at 9.5 rounds with the Over the betting favorite at -245 and the Under listed at +175.

Ramirez vs Zepeda Preview

Boxer Jose Ramirez Jose Zepeda
Age 26 29
Height 5’10” 5’8”
Reach 72.5” 70.5”
Total Fights 23 31
Record 23-0 30-1, 1 NC
Knockouts 16 25

In the “battle of Jose,” two fighters will not only fight to determine who the top Jose in this division is, but they will also determine whether or not the departure of legendary trainer Freddie Roach from Team Ramirez to Team Zepeda will be the difference. Roach was in Ramirez’s corner when he won the world title last March. However, Ramirez decided to return to Robert Garcia’s camp and Roach went to Zepeda. Last October, Zepeda scored a TKO win over Rondon in his first fight with Roach in his corner.

Ramirez talked about how Roach being in the opposite corner will make this fight even more exciting for the fans:

“A trainer can only sharpen someone and can’t change their overall styles. It’s only going to make Jose Zepeda more competitive and sharper. It’s better for the fans. Fans should be excited about that.”

Zepeda, who has won 7 straight fights, believes that this fight will be a “war” because of both fighters’ aggressiveness and because Roach knows Ramirez’s boxing skills and has fully prepared Zepeda for this championship bout:

“He said, ‘He’s an aggressive fighter.’ He has the ‘will to win’ and a ‘strong fighter,’ but ‘he can be outboxed.’“

Will Zepeda be able to outbox Ramirez with Roach in his corner?

On a side note, Ramirez will be auctioning off all of his ring attire from this fight in order to raise money for the Community Cancer Institute in nearby Clovis, CA. Jose, who lost his grandparents to cancer, commented on this important issue:

“I feel blessed to defend my title a second time at home against a great opponent and also support an issue that affects everyone and their families. Let’s all band together to KO cancer and remember that every moment counts.”

Who Wins: Ramirez or Zepeda?

Zepeda’s one loss of his career was in 2015 when he lost to Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO lightweight title. Zepeda was forced to retire from the fight after round two due to a dislocated shoulder. That’s a tough way to lose a fight, especially a world title bout. Zepeda has had to wait over three and a half years to get another world title shot. The one positive that Zepeda can take from his fight against Flanagan is the experience of fighting an opponent on their home turf. Zepeda will have to do that once again as he fights Ramirez in his hometown of Fresno, where the champ has fought three out of his last five bouts.

Ramirez has put together an impressive record since turning pro in late 2012. He’s gone undefeated and taken on some tough opponents over his last few fights. Not only did he beat Amir Imam for the WBC title last March, but he also defended it against the undefeated Antonio Orozco. Prior to the Imam fight, Ramirez took out the undefeated Mike Reed. In his last three fights, Ramirez’s opponents had a combined record of 71-1. Add Zepeda’s record, and Ramirez has now faced four fighters with a combined record of 101-2.

Despite what the oddsmakers think, I believe this is going to be a tough fight for both boxers. I don’t see Zepeda getting stopped in this contest, which means we will see the scorecards in this one. So, take the Over 9.5 rounds at -245 odds.

As for the winner, I have to go with Ramirez at home. Although Roach will help Zepeda make this a “war,” I can see this ending in either a UD or SD for Ramirez. But, as I mentioned above, Zepeda is worthy of a flyer at his +520 odds. Ramirez has no betting value.

Boxing Bet: Jose Ramirez (-750), Over 9.5 rounds (-245)

Ramirez vs Zepeda Undercard Fight Predictions

The following undercard fights will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 4PM ET. All betting odds are courtesy of 5Dimes.

Genesis Servania (32-1, 15 KOs) vs Carlos Castro (21-0, 9 KOs)

Servania (-360) vs Castro (+300) is going to be an exciting junior featherweight contest that headlines the streaming portion of the event. Servania (32-1, 15 KOs) has been trying to get in line for a title shot, but factors outside of his control have delayed his quest. Now, he’s risking it all in a fight against an undefeated prospect in Carlos Castro (21-0, 9 KOs) who’s also under the Top Rank banner.

Castro has fought all of his professional bouts in his home state of Arizona. Fortunately for Carlos, he doesn’t have to travel that far to get to Fresno, CA. Castro reportedly had an estimated 200 amateur fights before turning pro. However, he’s only fought in one 10-round fight prior to this bout.

Servania has the experience advantage over Castro and is a huge step up in competition for Carlos. In fact, I think that this is actually too much of a step up for Castro and he’s going to feel the difference on Sunday. Genesis will need to be careful not to overlook Castro this weekend as he casts his eyes on a world title shot next. With that said, I’m taking Servania to win via UD.

Boxing Bet: Genesis Servania (-360)

Andy Vences (21-0-1, 12 KOs) vs Dardan Zenunaj (14-5, 11 KOs)

In this 10-round junior lightweight fight, Andy Vences (-3300) comes in as a massive betting favorite over Dardan Zenunaj (+1650). Dubbed “El Tiburon,” Vences is undefeated in his professional career and looks to continue his rise up the division as he hunts for a title shot. Zenunaj has lost two straight fights and four of his last five. I don’t expect Dardan to put up much of a challenge in this bout.

A victory really does Andy no favors as he’s fighting an inferior opponent, but a loss would be catastrophic. With that said, Vences is going to steamroll over his opponent on Sunday, which is why oddsmakers have him as such a huge betting favorite. Unfortunately, his -3300 moneyline offers absolutely no value at all. But, in terms of picking a winner, this is a no-brainer. The only question is whether or not Vences stops this fight inside the distance. This bout is hardly even a full training session for Vences.

Boxing Bet: Andy Vences (-3300)

Saul Rodriguez (22-0-1, 16 KOs) vs Aelio Mesquita (17-3, 15 KOs)

In a 10-round lightweight fight, Saul “Neno” Rodriguez (-3200) returns to the boxing ring for the second time in the last three months as he takes on Aelio Mesquita (+1600). Once again, oddsmakers view this fight as a blowout in favor of Rodriguez who is a massive betting favorite. Mesquita is one of the biggest underdogs on the night.

I expect Rodriguez to finish this fight inside the distance. In his last four contests, Rodriguez has won three of them via TKO/KO. I see him doing that in this fight. Look for Rodriguez to notch another TKO/KO on his resume as he destroys mesquite who has lost three of his last four fights. All three of his losses have come via TKO/KO. This is nothing more than a glorified sparring session.

Boxing Bet: Saul Rodriguez (-3200)
Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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