It wasn’t pretty but Joey Beltran did enough to retain his heavyweight title in the BKFC 18 main event.
Following a tough opening round, Beltran made the necessary adjustments to put forward pressure on Sam Shewmaker, close the distance and hurt him with punches from the inside, and ultimately do enough to secure the victory on the judges’ scorecards.
After five, grueling rounds, the judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-46, and 48-47, with Beltran getting the unanimous decision.
Following the win, Beltrain explained why he wasn’t at his best on Saturday night despite holding onto his BKFC title.
“I honestly want to apologize to my fans, that was a dogsh*t performance on my part,” Beltran said. “But three weeks ago, I got that nasty virus called COVID. I had a 105 fever. It was f*cking hard.”
According to Beltran, it was only thanks to his girlfriend and fellow BKFC veteran Britain Hart helping him train through his bout with COVID-19 that allowed him to make it to the fight this weekend.
Beltran definitely had to show his durability in the early going after Shewmaker established a nasty jab in the first couple of exchanges that opened a gash over Beltran’s right eye, which caused blood to pour down his face. The jab followed by the right hand behind it from Shewmaker had Beltran wobbled momentarily, but the heavyweight champion grabbed into the clinch in order to get his balance back towards the end of the first round.
It was when the second round got started that Beltran came out with a renewed sense of urgency as he started throwing with more aggression, which put Shewmaker on his back foot. A pair of right hands gave Shewmaker problems as he tried to get off the ropes with Beltran continuing to throw punches to the head and body.
Knowing that Shewmaker wanted to keep the fight at a distance, Beltran was determined to work from the inside as he kept moving forward, looking to use his dirty boxing to hurt the challenger.
Whenever he was able to use his range, Shewmaker employed that lead jab very effectively but Beltran refused to give him much space at all. Beltran was doing his best to cut off the circular ring, with the overhand right serving as his best punch all night long.
While there wasn’t as much power behind the strikes, Beltran and Shewmaker were still throwing and landing until the final bell sounded. According to the punch stats, the heavyweights each connected with 52 shots a piece, but it appeared that Beltran’s ability to walk Shewmaker down with his punches round after round helped him to win the decision.
With the first defense of the heavyweight title under his belt, Beltran will start looking towards an anxious bunch of contenders vying for a shot at the championship — but not before he enjoys his latest victory at BKFC 18.