FOR over a decade Ray Beltran has shared a ring with Manny Pacquiao. He became one of his chief sparring partners. “I’ve known him for 10 years. I sparred with him more than anybody else. I think I’ve taken more punches than anybody else from him,” he laughed.

He learned plenty from the extraordinary Filipino. “The main thing is how to be patient. How to be patient because it’s very intense, it’s very crazy you feel like you’re sparring three Manny Pacquiaos. So you’ve got to learn how to be patient,” the Mexican said.

Beltran’s seen first hand what it takes to scale the heights of the sport. “Manny’s always focused. One time he did 10, 12 rounds of sparring, he did another 10, 12 rounds of the mitts . He’s just another level. They’re just another level. That’s why they are who they are. Manny and Mayweather, those guys are unique. They’re special. They train hard, they work hard but also they’re special,” he said.

Beltran has been working towards a big fight of his own against Takahiro Ao tonight (May 1) at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. It means he has been able to train with Pacquiao less often in the weeks building up to the Mayweather fight. “I ran with [Pacquiao] a couple of times. I ran with him a couple of times at the beginning but then our time was different because by the time he finished I was starting training. That was when I started doing my own thing,” Ray said. He is no longer a sparring partner. But he does draw inspiration still from the Filipino icon. “Just motivation, a lot of motivation, Manny’s a great guy,” Beltran said.

Stay with After a dramatic weigh-in yesterday when Ray failed to make the lightweight limit, we will cover his fight at the Cosmopolitan and Beltran tells his incredible story, how he stole across the Mexican border and became a fighter.