Jerry Belmontes has had a very rough year. The lightweight contender started off 2014 with a lot to be excited about. After pulling off the upset against the up-and-coming prospect Will Tomlinson, he followed up with a very respectful performance in a losing effort against Omar Figueroa a month later in a fight that many believe Belmontes won.
However, that loss to Figueroa was the first in a string of consecutive losses, which now sits at three in a row. Belmontes can be forgiven for his last loss, a rather uncompetitive, near shutout loss to Miguel Vazquez, because Vazquez is probably the best lightweight in the world notwithstanding his loss to Mickey Bey, which many felt was a robbery.
The problem for Belmontes is represented by the loss before his last in his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas where he took on Abner Cotto in what was supposed to be a showcase victory on his way to a possible rematch with Figueroa. In that fight, Belmontes was sharp in spots, but he gave the fight away by not letting his hands go enough, especially down the stretch. The biggest issue was the fact that Belmontes didn’t get out boxed or outclassed. Instead, he gave a half-hearted performance that only furthered the notion that he is his own worst enemy sometimes.
Now, Belmontes is back and he will get another chance to climb up the boxing ranks when he fights Dierry Jean for the NABF lightweight title on Jean’s turf of Montreal, Quebec, Canada on the undercard of Hassan N’Dam and David Lemieux’s vacant IBF middleweight title fight at the Bell Centre.
Belmontes doesn’t know much about Jean, but he knows that it is a real opportunity to make up ground in the division and get back on track.
“He’s a Canadian dude, his only loss was to Lamont Peterson and he’s the NABF champion at lightweight. That’s basically all I know about him,” Belmontes said in an interview with ThaBoxingVoice.com’s Anthony “Rod” Rodriguez.
Some might argue that Belmontes needs a couple easy wins before making a real attempt at coming back to deeper waters or even trying to string together some quality opponents. But Belmontes spent his early career with the luxuries afforded to potentially prized prospects and was matched carefully and brought along with a game plan in mind. Now, he only wants to test himself each and every time out, and soft touches don’t interest him.
When asked about the consecutive tough opponents and the idea of taking a step backwards, Belmontes said, “I did that in my earlier career. But that wasn’t me. I wanted to fight the tougher fighters out there to be named the number one champion.”
As far as what will be different about this Belmontes compared to the one that often sabotages himself we’ll have to wait and see. I mean, Belmontes says all the right things and at least he’s aware of the in-ring changes necessary for correcting his own past mistakes, but we’ll see if he can make good on these changes as he prepares in the gym for fight night.
“I just need to get back to what I used to do— box, quick movements, hand speed, quick jabs, lateral movement, angles, and I’m back with my dad. If you saw today’s sparring that’s exactly what I did, slipped some punches. Took some punches to land some punches.”
Belmontes’ manager, Adrian Clark, is just about the most upfront, candid individual you will ever meet in a sport filled with yes-men, and he has no quandaries telling his fighters how it is. Jerry is no different, and Clark admits that this could be his last real shot.
“Jerry knows what’s at stake, I’ve told him that this is a must win situation. The problem is you don’t know what Jerry is going to show up sometimes. He showed how dangerous he can be in the Tomlinson fight and against Omar. If that Jerry shows up, he can beat anybody, and he knows that,” Clark said in a phone interview with Thaboxingvoice.
This kind of pressure would crumble most fighters and could work against them if they’re unable to handle the pressure. However, Clark accurately described Belmontes as a fighter that fights to the level of his opposition as well as the significance of the circumstances in each fight.
For example, Belmontes was brilliant in a fight with a fighter that was being groomed in Tomlinson. That fight was Tomlinson’s to lose, and he was put in a position to walk through Jerry on his way to bigger things. Belmontes showed up when things were desperate. But in a showcase fight in his hometown against a fighter in Cotto that seemed primed for the loss Belmontes couldn’t capitalize.
He’s now in a dire situation fighting Jean in his own backyard. The odds are typically bad for the traveling fighter in this situation, but the stacked deck against Belmontes could work for him, and could be the motivation he needs to get out of his losing slump.