Valdez-Velez, Berlanga-Eric Moon and Clavel-Natalie Gonzalez to be televised LIVE on ESPN & ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT

LAS VEGAS — The first run of Top Rank on ESPN shows inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” will conclude with a certified boxing action hero ready for another toe-to-toe tussle.

Former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, ranked No. 1 by the WBO at junior lightweight, will face former world title challenger Jayson Velez in the 10-round main event Tuesday, July 21, inside the MGM Grand Conference Center.

In the eight-round co-feature, super middleweight knockout sensation Edgar Berlanga(13-0, 13 KOs), who has knocked out 13 consecutive foes in the first round to begin his pro career, will look to extend the streak against Eric Moon (11-2, 6 KOs).

The card also will highlight the long-awaited return of Kim Clavel, the undefeated light flyweight who won the 2020 Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs for her work as an elder care nurse in Montreal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clavel, who is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), will fight fellow unbeaten Natalie Gonzalez in an eight-rounder.

Valdez-Velez, Berlanga-Moon, Clavel-Gonzalez, and undercard bouts will be televised live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

“Oscar Valdez wants to fight WBC world champion Miguel Berchelt, and I know Miguel wants nothing more than to fight Oscar,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar knows Jayson Velez is a serious challenge that he cannot overlook. This is a great main event, and an incredible deep card, to close out our first round of shows inside the ‘Bubble.’”

Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) has won three fights since his March 2018 war of attrition against Scott Quigg, when his jaw was shattered in the fifth round of a 12-round championship bout. He took nearly one year off following the Quigg fight and moved up to the junior lightweight ranks last year. In his last outing, November 30 in Las Vegas, he survived a second-round knockdown to knock out Adam Lopez in the seventh.

Velez (29-6-1, 21 KOs), from Juncos, Puerto Rico, nearly won the IBF featherweight world title from Evgeny Gradovich in November 2014, but he was held to a controversial draw. He has fought from featherweight to lightweight in recent years and March 2018 knockout victory over former world champion Juan Manuel Lopez. Velez was one half of a Fight of the Year Contender in February, as he knocked down Jaime Arboleda in the 12th round, only to lose a split decision verdict by a single point on two of the judges’ scorecards. He has never been knocked out in a career that’s spanned nearly 13 years.

Valdez said, “I’m ready for the best of the division. I want to be a two-division world champion, and the only way to do that is to beat tough fighters like Jayson Velez, who has challenged for a world title and possesses a lot of experience. Also, I’m very thankful to be fighting during this critical time where the sport of boxing is getting attention again.”

“We know there have been discussions about me challenging Miguel Berchelt for his WBC super featherweight world title, but Velez is first. I need to beat Velez first if I want to fight Berchelt, and I’m expecting a very tough fight. I want to dedicate this fight to all of the nurses and doctors who are working hard on this pandemic and to my father, Top Rank, and my manager, Frank Espinoza. I can’t wait to return to the ring.”

Said Velez, “Oscar Valdez is the greatest name I have ever had the opportunity to face. He is a young, undefeated fighter who was already a world champion and is hungry for another world title. At this stage of my career, I see each fight as if it were the last chance to achieve my dream. It’s now or never. We are going to make that dream come true.”

Berlanga, the brash Brooklynite nicknamed “The Chosen One,” took care of Cesar Nunez in 2:45 last December on the Terence Crawford-Egidijus Kavaliauskas undercard at Madison Square Garden. Moon has won four of his last five and has been knocked out only once since turning pro in July 2016. He has fought eight or more rounds five times.

Said Berlanga, “I’ve not really changed much about training because of the knockout streak. Training is all about improving as a boxer. I had a good amateur career, and that comes from being a good technical boxer. My focus in training has been to continue to improve my skills under my trainer, Andre Rozier, and Team Havoc.”

Clavel (11-0, 2 KOs) is coming off a career-best win last December, a decision over Esmeralda Gaona Sagahon that earned her the NABF light flyweight belt. The belt won’t be on the line against Gonzalez (6-0, 1 KO), a native of New Rochelle, New York, who was a two-time New York Golden Gloves champion as an amateur.

In undercard action:

Former junior featherweight world champion Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe (20-2, 14 KOs), on the comeback trail following back-to-back defeats to Emanuel Navarrete, will face two-time world title challenger Chris “The Hitman” Avalos (27-7, 20 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight battle.

Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (7-0-1, 7 KOs), who is coming off a highlight-reel first-round KO July 2 against Danny Murray, will face Kenyan veteran Dennis Okoth (4-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder at junior welterweight.

Italian heavyweight destroyer Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (7-0, 7 KOs) will aim to make it eight knockouts in as many fights against an opponent to be named in a six-rounder. Vianello, a 2016 Olympian, knocked out Don Haynesworth in one round June 9.

Raphael “Trouble” Igbokwe (14-2, 6 KOs), winner of two straight bouts, will fight Genc Pllana (8-1-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight bout originally scheduled for July 16.

Via Gardy López / Top Rank

For the third time in his WBO featherweight world title reign, Oscar Valdez turned away the challenge of a previously undefeated fighter. Valdez, a two-time Olympian for his native Mexico, defeated Albuquerque product Jason Sanchez via unanimous decision to defend his world title for the sixth time.

The scores — 118-109 2x and 117-110 — were reflective of the action, but Sanchez, appearing in his first world title contest, made the longtime champion work for the victory.

Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs) knocked down Sanchez with a lead left hook to open the fifth round and played the role of boxer-puncher throughout the evening.

Sanchez (14-1, 7 KOs) was game, but he did not have an answer for Valdez, who has become a less of a brawler and more of a defensive-minded, catch-and-shoot tactician under the guidance of trainer Eddy Reynoso.

“I hope {to fight at featherweight again}. I also have to listen to my body. We’re going to see what’s best,” Valdez said. “Sometimes I get tired in there, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the weight loss. We’ll talk about {my next move} as a team and will do what is best. I want to fight everybody at 126, 130. Let’s do it.”

“Sanchez lacked experience, but he showed tremendous guts. Oscar Valdez fought him back and showed his championship heart,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “We’re going to look for a fight later on in the year between Valdez and Carl Frampton if Frampton is successful in his next fight.”

Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Oscar Valdez is set to make the sixth defense of his WBO world featherweight title, and for the third time during his title reign, he will be facing an unbeaten challenger.

Valdez (25-0, 20 KOs), the pride of Nogales, Mexico, will defend his belt against upstart Jason Sanchez (14-0, 7 KOs) Saturday evening from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. Sanchez is an Albuquerque product who has upset the odds before.

Valdez-Sanchez will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Valdez is now two fights removed from the severely broken jaw he suffered in March of last year against an over-the-weight Scott Quigg. Sanchez burst onto the boxing scene last October, upsetting then-unbeaten Jean Carlos Rivera via 10-round decision in Panama City, Panama. But Sanchez, who received this title shot on a little more than a month’s notice, is ready to tackle the long odds yet again. Valdez bounced back from the broken jaw Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas, knocking out Carmine Tommasone in seven rounds.

Two days before the bright lights, Valdez, Sanchez, and Flores met the media at the final press conference. This is what they had to say.

Oscar Valdez

On his second camp with trainer Eddy Reynoso

“We’ve worked very hard in the gym. He’s put the time in. That’s one of the first things I thought could happen knowing he trains Canelo Alvarez, that I might not get the time I deserve in the gym to keep on improving. But on the contrary. We’ve been working very hard. Eddy has been 100 percent dedicated to me, and I can just say thank you to him for putting that time in, him and my father, my manager Frank Espinoza, my whole team.”

“I know Jason Sanchez. I know he’s a tough fighter, and I treat him with as much respect as any fighter out there. A lot of people might not know who he is. Unfortunately, in the boxing world, if you don’t know the opponent, they automatically think it’s an easy fight like he’s a bum, a walk in the park, a sack of potatoes, whatever anybody wants to call it. But I don’t see that. I see a young, hungry fighter with the same dream as any other fighter wants to have, which is become a world champion. I have that target on my back. I take no fighter lightly. I see Jason Sanchez as a strong opponent, and I’m going to do my best to win.”

“I don’t plan on leaving this belt anytime soon. I want to move and improve to bigger and better things. Right now, I got only one guy on my radar, which is Jason Sanchez. I got much respect for him and his team, but once the bell rings, all of that is over. We have to give a good fight for the crowd, for the fans all over the world that are watching. That’s what we plan to do, so I’m very excited for this fight, to be honest.”

“I expect the best from every fighter. I saw him when he fought Jean Carlos Rivera, the Puerto Rican. He put up a good fight. Congratulations to him for his career. He’s doing great. This is a dream every fighter has, fighting for a world title. That only makes me more disciplined in the gym. I work very hard in the gym because I worked hard to get here, and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. I’m taking this belt back to Mexico.”

Jason Sanchez

“There’s been so much going on {since the Rivera fight}, but it’s awesome. I’ve been working hard. I’m ready.”

“We knew beating Jean Carlos Rivera would mean we’d get more opportunities for more stuff. And, yes, sure enough.”

On getting the call to fight Valdez

“I was excited. We took the fight right away. He’s a tough guy. I’ve seen him fight before, but we’re ready.”

“I just need to fight hard and stay smart and active. Bringing the title home to Albuquerque would mean so much.”

Every now and again, we on the outside looking in get reminded that those guys and gals in there are not like us. I mean, what were you thinking when you saw Oscar Valdez fight Scott Quigg and then learn he was fighting the dude with a jaw that was broken from round five onward?

And – oh wait – Valdez actually got better in the second half of the bout!

Yeah, the best of them aren’t built in regulation fashion. Their pain tolerance is of a higher caliber; their will on another tier…They are sturdy of body and mind and this is why we marvel at their exploits.

Speaking of exploits…Valdez makes the sixth defense of his WBO featherweight crown on Saturday, June 8, against Jason Sanchez at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, in Las Vegas.

The 28-year-old Valdez, from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, holds a 25-0 record (with 20 knockouts) and last gloved up on February 2, notching a seventh round KO win over Carmine Tommasone (19-1, 5 KOs) in Texas. That card, headlined by WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev’s rematch win over Eleider Alvarez, saw Sanchez (14-0, 7 KOs) from New Mexico, score a second round stoppage victory over Daniel Olea (13-8-2, 5 KOs).

I chatted with Valdez on Monday and the mood was still impacted from what we fight fans witnessed on Saturday. Andy Ruiz, a buddy of Valdez’s, scored a massive upset for the ages when he stopped Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and on DAZN. Valdez effused about the new IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titleholder Ruiz but, beforehand, he touched on his most recent bout. And we got to that place after I brought up being out of the ring for 329 days and how that affects a boxer. “I was a little too calm,” Valdez told me of the Tommasone clash.

“It was a long break after that (jaw) injury. There was ring rust. I was 100 percent physically but mentally something was off. I was too calm.” Not so this time, he predicts. “I will be myself. I’ve worked so hard with (trainer) Eddy Reynoso, working on his methods. And I will be myself and let it flow!”

So, Sanchez – “El Alacrancito/Lil Scorpion” – …Does Valdez come in thinking this somewhat untested product has a big stinger? Or does he think the challenger has bitten off more than he can chew and will see that quickly? “My foes are not all known in boxing circles by casual fans and if some don’t know them, they think they are easy. But they are dangerous. It’s every boxer’s dream (to fight for a world crown) and so they will work harder. I can’t let it happen,” he told RingTV.com. “I take this fight very seriously.”

The two-time Olympian gets it, that maybe a win here won’t get him massive acclaim because Sanchez isn’t on all the radar screens. “The casual fans might think it will be easy but it’s not going to be easy. My prediction? I never promise a knockout but I will do my best and leave everything I have in the ring. I take no fight lightly.”

Sanchez could maybe expect a high work rate from Valdez. In the Quigg fight, Valdez went from throwing 70 punches in rounds one through four, to averaging 79 after his jaw was broken. And Valdez should note that a counter right from the Scorpion was what damaged Olea. Sanchez will want to feature head movement or risk getting battered by Valdez. (Valdez-Sanchez and the 10-round co-feature will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.)

It feels like Valdez is confident but not cocky. His mind is on Sanchez but, of course, he gets asked about those on-more-radar guys, the Leo Santa Cruzes and Carl Framptons and Josh Warringtons. However he craves those match-ups. Sanchez is the front and center though. “Leo might be just as tough as a Sanchez but Leo has that bigger name,” Valdez continues. “About Sanchez, I don’t disrespect any fighter.”

I’m guessing Valdez brings a bit of extra juice with him to Reno, stemming from that Ruiz win. “I got goosebumps,” the Top Rank scrapper stated. “I was so proud of him and his team.” They’d worked together on the Mexican national team, so Valdez had a good idea of Ruiz’s promise and knew he would threaten “AJ.” “I contacted Andy and got a quick message to him and I was happy he could answer back, being so (deluged)! Yeah, he’s a Mexican and I love it. I’m so happy for his team and him. And this belt – my belt – is going back to Mexico with me!”

My three cents: I tend to agree. Sanchez is taking two steps up in class and will need to channel Andy Ruiz and then some if he’s to produce an upset special on ESPN. More likely that Valdez serves him a painful notice of what he has to work on.

Via https://www.ringtv.com/566655-oscar-valdez-my-wbo-belt-is-going-back-to-mexico-with-me/

Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.

WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez is expecting a tough defense of his world title belt against the undefeated Jason “Alacrancito” Sanchez (14-0, 7 KOs) on June 8 at the Reno Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum sees Sanchez as a great prospect and even called him “the Cinderella Man” due to his upset victory last October 2018 against the undefeated top prospect Jean Carlos Rivera. “He is hungry and that’s dangerous for Oscar,” said Arum. “Sanchez is capable of pulling the upset, it will be an exciting war!”

Under the tutelage of trainer Eddy Reynoso, Óscar Valdez has modified his style. “We keep working hard with Eddy Reynoso, our defense has improved and in sparring it shows. Our style always will be aggressive but we’re working in our defense,” said Valdez.

Oscar will be making the sixth defense of the WBO featherweight title and he is undefeated with at 25-0 with 20 KOs. He is looking forward to facing the elite of the 126lb division and it looks like Carl Frampton could be next, but Valdez is not looking past Sanchez.

“I’m taking this fight with Sanchez very seriously, and not looking past him and I let my manager Frank Espinoza and my Promoter Bob Arum along with my team decide what’s next, but I want the big names in my division” concluded Valdez.

By Hesiquio Balderas / fightnews.com

Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

RENO, Nev. (May 9, 2019) — Boxing’s preeminent action superhero, Oscar Valdez, will make the sixth defense of his WBO featherweight world title Saturday, June 8 against the upset-minded Jason “El Alacrancito” Sanchez at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

Valdez-Sanchez and the 10-round light heavyweight showdown between title-hungry contenders Sullivan Barrera and Michael Seals will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. Gabriel Flores Jr. (13-0, 6 KOs), fresh off his third-round knockout over Eduardo Pereira Reis in front of more than 10,000 fans in his hometown of Stockton, California, will see action on the undercard.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Let’s Get It On Promotions and Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, tickets for this world championship event priced at $103, $68 and $43 (including facility fees) are on sale now and can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com or in person at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa gift shop.

“Jason Sanchez is the real ‘Cinderella Man,’” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He is young, hungry and capable of pulling off a major upset. It should be an exciting battle.”

“I’m excited to be back in the ring for the sixth defense of my world title. I know there is a big target on my back because I’m the champion, but nobody is going to take this title away from me,” Valdez said. “This will be my second fight training with Eddy Reynoso. Training with Eddy, I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I felt great in the ring during my first fight with Eddy in my corner. I know that I will look even better this time out. The fans in Reno and watching on ESPN and ESPN Deportes can expect a great showing from me on June 8.”

“I am truly honored and blessed to have an opportunity like this,” Sanchez said. “Coming from Albuquerque, New Mexico, I knew I had to work extra hard to be noticed and to get where I’m at right now. I will be bringing this belt home to Albuquerque, to my family, my supporters, and most of all, my late brother Alan Sanchez. I believe he guided me down this road and that my journey is only beginning.”

Valdez (25-0, 20 KOs), Mexico’s first two-time Olympian, has thrilled boxing fans with his go-for-broke style. He won the WBO featherweight title in July 2016 and proved his mettle with a trio of 12-round bloodbaths against Miguel Marriaga, Genesis Servania and Scott Quigg in consecutive bouts. Valdez outlasted an over-the-weight Quigg last March by unanimous decision despite fighting more than half the bout with a severely broken jaw. Following the Quigg bout, Valdez took nearly a year off, returning Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas, to knock out then-unbeaten Italian challenger Carmine Tommasone in the seventh round.

The 24-year-old Sanchez (14-0, 7 KOs) enters this championship fight as one of the featherweight division’s fastest-rising young guns. Last October, he stunned then-unbeaten Jean Carlos Rivera via unanimous decision in Panama City, Panama. Following the Rivera victory, Sanchez signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank. He impressed in his Top Rank debut Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas, knocking out Daniel Olea in the second round. Sanchez hopes to become only the fifth men’s boxer from New Mexico to win a world title.

Barrera (22-2, 14 KOs), a former Cuban amateur standout, defected to the United States in 2009 and turned pro later that year. The Miami-based bruiser won the first 17 bouts of his career before dropping a decision to pound-for-pound great Andre Ward. A perennial contender, Barrera holds victories over Joe Smith Jr., Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Karo Murat and former super middleweight world champion Jeff Lacy. He challenged Dmitry Bivol for a light heavyweight world title last year and fought valiantly before being stopped in the 12th and final round.

Seals (22-2, 16 KOs), a former linebacker for Alabama A&M University, traded in his cleats for trunks and turned pro after a five-fight amateur career. He was 19-0 when he clashed with Edwin Rodriguez in November 2015. In a seesaw battle that included five knockdowns, Rodriguez knocked out Seals in the third round of a Fight of the Year contender. Seals is 3-1 since the Rodriguez battle, the lone loss coming via disqualification after he hit his opponent while he was on the ground. The winner of this can’t-miss action fight will be in line for a potential world title opportunity.

“I am very excited to have signed with Top Rank, a world-class organization with the best light heavyweights in the world,” Barrera said. “I am excited about the future, but the first step is to handle business June 8 and then I can look forward to a shot at a world title. My ultimate goal is Sergey Kovalev. I’ve been chasing him my whole career. Hopefully, we can finally fight this year.”

“This means everything to me. I had a great opportunity with Edwin Rodriguez, but I went into that fight with a torn rotator cuff. I was basically fighting with just my right hand,” Seals said. “Now, I am 100 percent healthy. This is my time. Barrera had his time. I feel good. I feel sharp. I feel young. I have sacrificed so much and have had a lot of time to reflect on the decisions I’ve made and all of the hardships I’ve gone through. On June 8, I’m going to unleash all of my frustration on Barrera. I don’t want to take anything away from Barrera. He’s a world-class fighter, but I am as well.”

Valdez Knocks Out Tommasone, Retains Featherweight Title

After nearly 11 months out of the ring recovering from a broken jaw, WBO featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez did not miss a beat. Valdez made the fifth defense of his title, notching a seventh-round TKO over the previously unbeaten Carmine Tommasone.

Valdez (25-0, 20 KOs) scored a pair of knockdowns in the fourth, the first one coming courtesy of a counter right hand and the second one via a left hook to the belt line.

Valdez knocked down Tommasone again in the sixth, which spelled the beginning of the end for the game Italian. Early in the seventh, an uppercut floored Tommasone, and the referee immediately stopped the fight.

“I was very excited. I kind of didn’t want to get too crazy in there. It was tough the first round to get {my rhythm},” Valdez said. “But finally, I got the job done. I congratulate him. He’s a great fighter. I wish him nothing but the best.

“We started 2019 well. The sky’s the limit.”

Weigh-In Results: Super Saturday

Alvarez vs. Kovalev 2
 Valdez vs. Tommasone


Alvarez vs. Kovalev 2  TOMORROW at 12 a.m. ET on ESPN+

Valdez vs. Tommasone on ESPN/ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET

Undercard Streaming on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET 

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

ESPN+ (12 a.m. ET)

Eleider Alvarez 174.8 lbs vs. Sergey Kovalev 174 lbs
(Alvarez’s WBO Light Heavyweight world title – 12 Rounds)

ESPN/ESPN Deportes (10 p.m. ET)
 
 Oscar Valdez 125.8 lbs vs. Carmine Tommasone  125.4 lbs

(Valdez’s WBO Featherweight world title – 12 Rounds)

Super Saturday is almost here. Three world title fights, including one of the most anticipated rematches in recent memory, will take place Saturday at Ford Center at the Star, the practice home of the Dallas Cowboys. 

At midnight ET on ESPN+, Eleider “Storm” Alvarez will attempt to repeat the deed when he defends his WBO light heavyweight world title against former two-time light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. Back in August, Alvarez came from behind to starch Kovalev with three knockdowns in the seventh round. And, in the ESPN+ co-feature, 2018 Prospect of the Year Teofimo Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs) takes on former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno (31-2, 13 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight fight.

Inthe ESPN main event (10 p.m. ET), Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) defends his WBO featherweight title for the fifth time against Carmine “Mr. Wolf” Tommasone (19-0, 5 KOs). In the ESPN co-feature, Richard Commey and Isa Chaniev will duke it out for the vacant IBF lightweight title with the winner set to fight unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year.

Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday from Ford Center at the Star.

Eleider Alvarez

“Things have changed a lot for me. This is my first time being a main event {defending my world title}. What has changed is my popularity, but I’m still the same guy.”

“Thanks to God, I’m a mentally strong person. I have come from the bottom, basically, and little by little, I’ve been getting my stuff. Now I have more, so that’s why I think I’ve been able to handle everything well. That’s why I am a mentally strong person.”

On Kovalev saying he was overtrained for the first fight

“I believe that’s a lot of excuses he’s making. When you lose, you have a lot of excuses. I had a great game plan with my team. If he says that was an accident, then he needs to get ready for another accident.”

Sergey Kovalev

“I want to say a big thanks to Top Rank and my team at Main Events to make this rematch and get my belt back. This is the most important {fight} for me because I couldn’t stop my boxing career as a loser. It’s not in my character. First of all, this is my goal, to get back my belt that I dropped on the way to my big goals. I made a mistake last time {against Alvarez}, but this time I will fix it. This Saturday, I will fix this situation and be on top again. If not, I am not the Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev. Believe me, this Saturday will be the best version of me because I turned everything on to get in the best shape of my boxing career.”

“My goal is to collect all four belts, but I dropped this belt on my way to my huge goal. After {the Alvarez loss}, a lot of people thought I should stop my boxing career. No, that’s not in my character to stop my career by losing. When I win, I will think, stop or not to stop? But when I lose, it was 100 percent no.”

Oscar Valdez

On recovering from the broken jaw suffered in the Scott Quigg fight

“It was one of the most difficult times of my life. Having my jaw wired shut for two months was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. That’s in the past now. I’m ready to focus on this fight. I’m 100 percent healed from that injury. That’s not going to bother me no more. I’m just excited to get back in the ring. It’s been almost a year since my last fight. I’ve been training hard with my new trainer, Eddy Reynoso. It’s been a great training camp, and I just can’t wait to get in there and start again where I left off.”

“We had a great training camp, me and Eddy Reynoso. I never take no fighter lightly. There was a point where no one knew who Manny Pacquiao was when he came to the United States and had his first fight. And he became a star. So, we don’t know what Tommasone can bring. I will be 100 percent ready for him, or for any fighter, because I don’t take no fighter lightly. I have the same respect for all fighters inside the ring, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do come out victorious. One thing in my mind is to not take him lightly and just try to get the job done and keep on improving my career. I’m definitely focused on this fight and start where I left off.”

Eddy Reynoso

“Working with a world champion and an athlete that works as hard as Oscar does is a proud moment for me to be part of that team.”

Carmine Tommasone

“I fought in America as an amateur. This is my first time as a professional. When I got the call {to fight Valdez}, it was like an early Christmas present because it was early December. I prepared well for this opportunity.”

“Winning a title in the United States is every boxer’s dream. It would be a great opportunity.”

On people calling this a “tune-up fight” for Valdez

“It doesn’t bother me. I’m confident in my skills, and this is an opportunity to show my skills.”

FRISCO, Texas — Three days before Super Saturday kicks off at Ford Center at the Star, four of boxing’s biggest stars — WBO featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, WBO light heavyweight world champion Eleider Alvarez, 2018 Prospect of the Year Teofimo Lopez, and top lightweight contender Richard Commey — took time out of their fight week schedule to meet with local children at the Frisco Family YMCA.

They discussed the hard work required to become an elite athlete, demonstrated assorted boxing drills, and then signed autographs to close out the afternoon.

Valdez vs. Carmine Tommasone will headline the ESPN/ESPN Deportes world championship doubleheader (10 p.m. ET) that also features the vacant IBF lightweight title fight between Commey and Isa Chaniev.

The action will then turn to the OTT streaming service ESPN+ at 12 a.m., as Lopez versus Diego Magdaleno will serve as the co-feature to boxing’s most anticipated rematch — the WBO light heavyweight world title bout between Alvarez and former division kingpin Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.

Promoted by Top Rank, Main Events and Krusher Promotions, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel, tickets priced at $225, $165, $85, $55, and $25 (including facility fees) are on sale now and can be purchased at SeatGeek.com.

7 p.m. – 10 p.m. — ESPN+ — Undercard Fights
10 p.m. – 12 a.m. — ESPN / ESPN Deportes — Oscar Valdez vs. Carmine Tommasone & Richard Commey vs. Isa Chaniev
12 a.m. — ESPN+ — Eleider Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev 2 & Teofimo Lopez vs. Diego Magdaleno

Photos by M. Williams / Top Rank

Media Workout: Oscar Valdez Hit Frisco to Promote Super Saturday Extravaganza

Special ESPN/ESPN+ quadruple-header Feb. 2 at Ford Center at the Star

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

FRISCO, Texas — WBO featherweight champion world champion Oscar Valdez worked out for fans and media Wednesday to promote the Super Saturday quadruple-header, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 2 at Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas.

Valdez vs. Carmine Tommasone will headline the ESPN/ESPN Deportes world championship doubleheader (10 p.m. ET) that also features the IBF lightweight world title fight between Richard Commey and Isa Chaniev.

The action will then turn to the OTT streaming service ESPN+ at 12 a.m., as Lopez versus Diego Magdaleno will serve as the co-feature to boxing’s most anticipated rematch — the WBO light heavyweight world title bout between champion Eleider “Storm” Alvarez and former division kingpin Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.

From the Tostitos Championship Plaza at Ford Center at The Star, this is what Valdez and Lopez had to say.

Oscar Valdez

On training with Eddy Reynoso

“It’s been great training with Eddy. He’s not only worked on the things I’m good at, but he’s added a new element to my game. I know I can improve my defense while still being the same action fighter that fans are used to seeing.”

On Carmine Tommasone

“He is a tough, undefeated fighter, and I know I have to be 100 percent ready. Camp has gone great, and after a long time off, I can’t wait to fight again.”

On the recovery from the broken jaw suffered versus Scott Quigg

“Everything is great. I took enough time off to make sure my jaw was fully recovered, so when I got back to training, I was 100 percent ready. I can’t wait to show the fans a new Oscar Valdez on Feb. 2.”

Promoted by Top Rank, Main Events and Krusher Promotions, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel, tickets priced at $225, $165, $85, $55, and $25 (including facility fees) are on sale now and can be purchased at SeatGeek.com.

7 p.m. – 10 p.m. — ESPN+ — Undercard Fights
10 p.m. – 12 a.m. — ESPN / ESPN Deportes — Oscar Valdez vs. Carmine Tommasone & Richard Commey vs. Isa Chaniev
12 a.m. — ESPN+ — Eleider Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev 2 & Teofimo Lopez vs. Diego Magdaleno

Oscar Valdez-Carmine Tommasone WBO Featherweight world title bout to air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10 p.m. ET at the Ford Center at the Star, Frisco.

On February 2nd Oscar Valdez will make the fifth defense of his WBO Featherweight title against the unbeaten Carmine “Mr. Wolf” Tommasone. Valdez will be making his first ring appearance since suffering a severely broken jaw in a March 10 unanimous decision win against an overweight Scott Quigg.

Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) made his name as one of the sport’s foremost action stars with a trio of 12-round wars against Miguel Marriaga, Genesis Servania and Quigg. The Quigg fight was shrouded in controversy as the Englishman missed the featherweight limit by nearly three pounds and refused a day-of weight check. Valdez fought with a broken jaw against Quigg for more than half the fight and still managed to prevail via clear unanimous decision. Valdez, whose jaw was wired shut for two months after the bout, is ready to move on and prove that the injury was nothing more than a speed bump.

“It will be great to see our little warrior, Oscar Valdez, back in action on Feb. 2 after his full recovery from a broken jaw and a courageous victory over Quigg,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar always brings thrills and excitement to his fights.”

“The fans can expect the same Oscar Valdez as far as being an aggressive and exciting fighter,” Valdez said. “They are also going to see a different side that nobody has seen, which is the boxing skills that I also have and that I’m perfecting and learning with my new trainer, Eddy Reynoso.”

Tommasone (19-0, 5 KOs), an eight-year pro from Avellino, Campania, Italy, is a former Italian, European and WBA Intercontinental champion who will be making his first ring appearance outside of his home country. He captured the vacant European crown on Sept. 26, 2015 with a wide unanimous decision win against Jon Slowey. Tommasone made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics as the first professional to take part in an Olympic boxing match. One of three pros to participate at the 2016 Olympics, Tommasone won his opening bout before losing to the eventual bronze medalist, Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez.

Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) in Jalisco is getting geared up to report to training camp on October 1st.

Valdez will begin working with his new training team of Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, who are best known for guiding the career of two-division world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Last Saturday, the Reynoso clan secure the biggest win of their coaching careers – when Canelo secured a twelve round majority decision over Gennady Golovkin to capture the WBC, WBA middleweight titles at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Valdez has not fought since this past March, when he beat former world champion Scott Quigg but ended up suffering a fractured jaw.

Valdez could potentially fight in December, according to what manager Frank Espinoza and promoter Todd DuBoef, the president of Top Rank, have said.

“We are going to see if there is a date, they want to fight in December, and if not it will be in January. It is a good challenge and we are ready, we do not know if Saúl will have the fight in December but we already talked about it and there will be no problem,” Eddy Reynoso told ESPN Deportes.

Valdez will defend the featherweight title of the World Boxing Organization he conquered in July 2016 and has already successfully defended four times, including the recent fight in which Quigg did not make the weight and entered the ring with a vary wide size advantage.

Valdez, a two-time Mexican Olympian, is still only 27 years old. While sporting an undefeated record on his ledger, the boxer still hopes to improve on the defensive aspect with Reynoso, who groomed and crafted the defensive style of Canelo from the very start of the boxer’s career.

https://www.boxingscene.com/oscar-valdez-start-training-camp-with-reynoso-on-october-1–132115

Oscar Valdez’s victory over Scott Quigg on March 10th on a rainy night at the StubHub Center came at quite a cost.

Valdez – facing a Quigg who didn’t even try and make the featherweight limit and came in heavy and thus ineligible to win the WBO featherweight title – suffered a fractured jaw, which hospitalized him for a few days after the fight.

When asked how his fighter was doing, manager Frank Espinoza told BoxingScene.com – “Since his fight he’s been back to the doctor four times in two-and-a-half months. His progress has come along well. The wire that was in his jaw has been removed so he’s now able to eat solid food. We have periodic checks with the doctor. He’ll be back there in June for another check-up.”

It’s unclear if Valdez (the reigning WBO 126-pound titlist) will return to the ring in 2018.

“That’s solely up to the doctors discretion, it’s his call,” said Espinoza, who makes it clear that Valdez’s return to the ring will not be handled recklessly.

“Listen, he’s had 36 hard, tough rounds and now after suffering a serious injury to his jaw, I have a responsibility to my client to do what’s right for him and his long-term future. He’s the type of guy that will literally fight anybody – as he showed back in March – and there will be plenty of time to make the big fights in the featherweight division but for the time being we will take the appropriate fights to bring Oscar back.”

The 27-year old Valdez (24-0, 19 KO’s) won the WBO strap in the summer of 2016 by blasting out Matias Rueda in two rounds and has made three successful title defenses.

“Oscar will be back stronger and better than ever and he’ll be involved in some of the best fights in the division but again, there will be a process in getting there. That’s my job as a manager to do what’s in his best interest,” stated Espinoza.

Article by Steve Kim / News Editor for BoxingScene.com / Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

https://www.boxingscene.com/oscar-valdez-manager-gives-status-on-injury-ring-return–128440

 WBO Featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez fought most of his bout against Scott Quigg with a broken jaw. Photo provided by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

As featherweight world titleholder Oscar Valdez was loaded into an ambulance on Saturday night following his epic slugfest with Scott Quigg, he flashed a big smile and gave a thumbs up to his team.

Valdez had suffered a broken jaw in the fifth round and spit blood for much of the rest of the extremely violent fight with Quigg, who walked away with his own issues, including a broken nose, cuts, black eyes and swelling on his forehead that made him look like a Klingon from Star Trek.

But Valdez won by unanimous decision — 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111 — at the soggy StubHub Center in Carson, California, where the nonstop rain made it an eerie night with just a few thousand fans willing to brave the elements for the Top Rank ESPN card.

On Monday, Valdez visited oral surgeon Dr. Douglas Galen in Beverly Hills, where he had his jaw wired shut. It will stay that way for the next five or six weeks, Frank Espinoza, Valdez’s manager, told ESPN.

Espinoza said Valdez did not require surgery but was put under anesthesia so the doctor could reset his jaw, which had been hanging to the side after the injury, and wire it closed. Valdez was released later Monday from the outpatient procedure and was resting at a rented home in Southern California, Espinoza said.

“Right now, Oscar just needs to rest,” Espinoza said. “He has a follow-up appointment on Friday. I’m very proud of Oscar. He showed a lot of grit. He went seven rounds with a broken jaw. He’s got a big heart. I’ve always said he had that warrior spirit and he showed it against Quigg. There’s no quit in Oscar. But now it’s time for him to relax and get better. I don’t even want him to think about boxing.”

As for how long Valdez will be out of action, Espinoza said neither he nor Valdez even asked the doctor about it, though it seems to be a good possibility he might not fight for the rest of the year. When Quigg suffered a broken jaw in his a split-decision loss to Carl Frampton in their 2016 junior featherweight world title unification fight, he was out of action for 10 months.

“I think we’ll see how he recovers and that [conversation with the doctor] will come later,” Espinoza said. “I can’t judge when he’ll be back, but no time soon. Right now he’s just going to follow the doctor’s orders. When the doctor gives him the green light, then we’ll talk about it. Right now we just want him to rest and we want to thank all the well wishers. They’ve been flowing in, and Oscar really appreciates them.”

Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs), 27, a two-time Olympian from Mexico, retained his title for the fourth time with the kind of gutsy and exciting performance that harkened back to so many fights put on by fan-favorite warriors from his country, such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, Valdez’s idol.

It was not lost on Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Valdez’s promoter.

“Those memorable nights and memorable performances make fans want to see someone come back right away,” duBoef said. “It was a breakthrough night for Oscar, so it’s unfortunate that he has an injury that will keep him on the sideline for a bit. We don’t know how long he’ll be sidelined, but his star power and the awareness of him to fight fans and sports fans dramatically increased as a result of his brave performance on Saturday night.”

The fight almost didn’t come off because England’s Quigg (34-2-2, 25 KOs), 29, came in overweight at Friday’s weigh-in. He was 128.8 pounds, well over the 126-pound limit and ineligible to win the title, while Valdez was 125.8. Top Rank and Espinoza wanted Quigg to agree to a Saturday morning weight check at which he couldn’t weigh more than 136 pounds, but Quigg refused to go along with it.

At that point, Espinoza said he advised Valdez not to go through with the fight, but Valdez had trained hard for two months and wanted to fight and earn his nearly $500,000 purse that was increased with money from Quigg’s purse due to a fine from the California State Athletic Commission, plus additional cash from a side deal between the camps.

“I told Top Rank that I was requesting a second-day weigh-in. My guy sweated and made weight and I wanted Oscar to have a fair playing field,” Espinoza said. “I wanted 136 pounds max and Quigg wouldn’t do it. Absolutely no. It pissed me off. He didn’t make weight, so at least try to oblige us on the second-day weigh-in so he’s not so much bigger.

“They didn’t show professionalism, Quigg and [trainer] Freddie [Roach]. I went back and told Oscar they wouldn’t do it, that they wouldn’t agree to the second-day weigh-in. So my advice to Oscar was not to take the fight. But it was Oscar’s decision. He took the fight. He wanted the fight — and he won.”

http://www.espn.co.uk/boxing/story/_/id/22739756/oscar-valdez-jaw-wired-shut-days-bloody-slugfest-scott-quigg

Date:  Saturday, April 22, 2017

WBO Featherweight Championship

Location: StubHub Center, Carson, California

Promoter: Top Rank/Bob Arum

Supervisor:  Richard De Cuir

Referee:  Jack Reiss

Judges:  Julie Lederman (119-108); Steve Morrow (118-109); Zac Young (116-111)

Results:   The WBO Featherweight Champion Oscar Valdez retained the title against Miguel Marriaga by Unanimous Decision.

TV:   USA iNDEMAND, USA Dish Network, USA Direct TV

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By Miguel Maravilla
Photos: Sumio Yamada

WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs), of Nogales, México, won a hard fought unanimous decision against mandatory contender Miguel “Escorpión” Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs), of Colombia Saturday night in defending his WBO featherweight title at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California headlining the Top Rank Pay Per View card. Oscar Valdez did not make the post fight press conference but spoke to us briefly

“It was a tough fight and it was my first time going 12 rounds. I knew he was going to be a tough fighter. It was nothing easy much respect to Marriaga. We did good thank god,” Oscar Valdez told Fightnews.com

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www.fightnews.com/Boxing/full-report-valdez-defeats-marriaga-401932/nggallery/page/3

 

3817toprank00t Photos: Mikey Williams / Top Rank –

By:  Miguel Maravilla –

Undefeated WBO world champions featherweight Óscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs), from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Mazatlan, Mexico’s super middleweight Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (34-0, 24 KOs), and super bantamweight champ Jessie Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) of Las Vegas held an L.A. press conference Tuesday morning at the Manhattan Beach, Marriott to officially announce their upcoming title defenses taking place Saturday April 22, at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California live on Pay Per View. Also present at the press conference was 2016 U.S Olympic Silver medalist Shakur Stevenson of New Jersey.

Opening up the press conference was Hall of Fame Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.

“The fighters we will be showcasing on April 22nd are the brightest of Stars,” Arum said. 

Oscar Valdez and his team introduced by manager Frank Espinoza

“Headlining this event means a lot to me. We put in the time and working hard for this fight. Miguel Marriaga is a tough fighter. We will do whatever it is to come out on top. Whatever I have to do to win, I will do that night,” Valdez said.

“My boys will be ready on April 22nd. They said Oscar hasn’t fought a hard puncher but I don’t think they have faced a fighter like Oscar before,” Trainer Manny Robles said.

“April 22nd, Valdez defends his title against Marriaga. Oscar welcomes him and is up for the challenge. On April 22nd you don’t want to miss this fight,” Manger Frank Espinoza

Valdez will be making his second defense of his title against NABO champion and number one contender Miguel Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs) of Columbia. Marriaga and his team were also present.

“We have been working and now the time has come. I am well prepared for this fight and will come in 100 percent for this fight,” Marriaga said.

“Valdez and Marriaga will be a fight to remember. Stub Hub Center has always had great fights and this will live up to that. We are looking forward to it,” Manager Ruben Zavala said.

Gilberto Ramirez will be making the first defense of his WBO super middleweight title against Maksim Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine.

“I am really happy to be back. I have been training really hard. This will be a good fight. Max Bursak is a good fighter and this will be a good fight,” Ramirez said speaking English

“We have a lot of confidence in Gilberto that this will be a good year. April 22nd, he will comeback to please the fans. This will be his year,” Manager Jesus Zappari said.

Jessie Magdaleno will defend his title against Brazil’s Adeilson Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KOs).

“It feels good to be back and defend my title. April 22nd you will see another great Magdaleno. We are here to give everyone what they want to see, a great night of boxing,” Magdaleno said.

“Jessie Magdaleno will defend his title for the first time in a matchup you want to see. He will step in the ring to showcase and you will witness Magdaleno defend for the first time,” Co-Manager Frank Espinoza Jr. said.

Shakur Stevenson will be making his pro debut on the April 22 card at Stub Hub as he was introduced by Arum and also spoke at the press conference

“Let me introduce you to a young man that will be a superstar the way Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya were,” Bob Arum said in introducing Stevenson to the local media.

“I am excited to be making my debut and I cant wait to entertain my fans,” Shakur Stevenson said.

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www.fightnews.com/Boxing/top-rank-ppv-press-conference-396690#more-396690

Date:   Saturday, November 5, 2016

WBO FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BOUT

Location:   Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Promoter:  Top Rank / Bob Arum

Supervisor:  Michael Pernick

Referee:  Vic Drakulich

Judges:  Patricia Morse Harman, Max De Luca, John McKaie

Results:    The WBO Featherweight Champion Oscar Valdez retained the title against Hiroshige Osawa by KO in the seventh round.

TV:  Panama RPC Channel 4, Australia Main Event, Hungary Sport 1

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By Miguel Maravilla at ringside
Photos: Mikey Williams / Top Rank –

WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) scored an impressive seventh round TKO over super game #1 rated Hiroshige Osawa (30-4-4, 19 KOs) on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 70:1 favorite Valdez dropped Osawa in round four, but Osawa survived Valdez’ vicious follow up assault. The bout was waved off in round seven.

www.fightnews.com/Boxing/valdez-retains-wbo-featherweight-title-358891

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www.fightnews.com/Boxing/valdez-retains-wbo-featherweight-title-358891

By Ryan Burton

In just two days, boxing’s only eight division world champion and the reigning Fighter of the Decade Senator MANNY “Pacman” PACQUIAO (58-6-2, 38 KOs), from General Santos City, Philippines, collides with World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight world champion JESSIE VARGAS (27-1, 10 KOs), of Las Vegas.  Pacquiao and Vargas will go mano a mano and toe-to-toe in a high-stakes welterweight showdown.  Photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

paco_wbo

While Pacquiao will be looking to become a three-time WBO welterweight champion as well as the first senator to win a world title, Vargas will be resolute in enforcing a term limit on the future Hall of Famer’s boxing career.

Pacquiao vs. Vargas takes place This Saturday!  November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center, on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Pacquiao vs. Vargas and its three co-main event world title fights will be produced and distributed live by Top Rank® Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT, and will be available on all conventional platforms, including all major cable and satellite systems, as well as Top Rank’s digital distribution via www.TopRank.tv and  mobile devices.

The three additional world championship fights on the pay-per-view telecast include:  four-division world champion NONITO “The Filipino Flash” DONAIRE (37-3, 24 KOs), from General Santos City, Philippines, defending his WBO junior featherweight title against undefeated No. 1 contender JESSIE MAGDALENO (23-0, 17 KOs), from Las Vegas; and newly-minted WBO featherweight champion and two-time Mexican Olympian ÓSCAR VALDEZ (21-0, 18 KOs), from Nogales, Mexico, making his first title defense, against No. 1 contender  HIROSHIGE OSAWA (30-3-4, 19 KOs), from Osaka, Japan.

The pay-per-view telecast will open with the rematch between top-rated contenders Chinese Olympic icon ZOU SHIMING (8-1, 2 KOs), from Guizhou, China, and PRASITAK PAPOEM (39-1-2, 24 KOs), of Buriram, Thailand, battling for the vacant WBO flyweight world title.  Zou a two-time Olympic gold medalist trained by Freddie Roach, will have his hands full against Prasitak, who enters this fight riding a two-year, 12-bout winning streak, with all of his victories coming by way of knockout.

www.boxingscene.com/video-wbo-prez-on-canelo-saunders-parker-ruiz-more–110392?print_friendly=1

Date:   Saturday, July 23, 2016

VACANT WBO FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BOUT

Location:   MGM Grand, Grand Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Promoter:    Top Rank, Inc. / Bob Arum

Supervisor:  John Duggan

Referee:  Russell Mora

Judges:  Steve Weisfeld, Burt Clements,  Robert Hoyle

Results:  Oscar Valdez out-punches in Matias Carlos Adrian Ruedas  in defeating him by a 2nd round knockout to claim the vacant WBO World (126lb.) title.

TV: USA HBO PPV, Argentina TyC Sports

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By Miguel Maravilla at ringside
Photos: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Unbeaten WBO #1 rated featherweight contender and two-time Olympian Oscar Valdez (21-0, 18 KOs) destroyed previously unbeaten #2 Matias “La Cobrita” Rueda (26-1, 23 KOs) to claim the vacant WBO featherweight world title on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Valdez unleashed a brutal attack that staggered Rueda in round one. Valdez continued to punish Rueda in round two and dropped him twice with body shots. Time was 2:18. Sensational performance by Valdez.

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62316ramirez016 Photos: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

By Bill Dwyre –

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, Oscar Valdez knew he was fighting Saturday night in the co-main event of the Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol boxing card. What he didn’t know was exactly what he was fighting for, other than a nice paycheck and another step forward in his career.

His was the World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight (126 pounds) title fight that maybe wasn’t going to be a title fight. And maybe it was. With three days to go before the event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, there was a hint of Abbott and Costello and “Who’s on First.”

Valdez will fight Matias “La Cobrita” Rueda immediately before Crawford and Postol vie for the 140-pound WBO and World Boxing Council (WBC) title unification belts, and advance publicity material had listed the Valdez-Rueda bout as a title fight. Except one thing stood in the way.

Vasyl Lomachenko.

Lomachenko has quickly become the Manny Pacquiao of the 126 and 130-pound divisions. When he knocked out Roman “Rocky” Martinez June 11, he became the WBO junior lightweight (130 pounds) champion. That was in his seventh professional fight. He was already the WBO’s 126-pound champion. So, with a record of 6-1, the Ukrainian had become the fastest ever to win two world titles. His success was no surprise, just the speed of it. As an amateur, he had won World Championships in 2009 and 2011 and Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

His victory over Martinez presented him with a dilemma. Would he stay at 126 pounds or vacate that title and keep the 130 pound belt?

His Lithuanian manager, Egis Klimas, was at Top Rank Promotion’s gym Tuesday afternoon, watching another of his fighters. He said Lomachenko was undecided, but had been given 60 days before announcing what he would do with his 126-pound title. That would take decision time into early August, and leave the Valdez-Rueda fight as a match made in Limbo.

“I don’t know what will happen,” Klimas said, “but I think we will likely go to the 130-pound division. More big names there.”

That was just before 2 p.m.

Shortly after, Valdez was interviewed and had no idea himself. He was asked if it wasn’t a tough dilemma, going into a fight not knowing exactly what was at stake.

“Not at all,” he said. “I’m here to fight. I take it all very seriously. I expect a war every time I go out there. That’s all I’m thinking about. I’ve heard a lot of things about how this will surely be a title fight, but a lot of that comes from people who really don’t know.

“I just want to fight. That’s all that’s on my mind.”

Of course, a few minutes later in the interview, Valdez said, “My dream is to become a champion.”

So, Lomachenko’s manager didn’t know. Valdez didn’t know. Presumably Rueda, himself in line to win a title by beating Valdez, didn’t know.

But somebody in a high place did.

At 3:30, Bob Arum, Top Rank’s chief executive, in response to a phone call, said, “It’s a title fight. All set. Lomachenko is vacating to 130 pounds.”

There was no desire to hear of the politics and arm-twisting that achieved that. Watch the Netflix series “House of Cards” and you’ll get the picture. This is boxing. Knowing too many details means somebody might have to kill you.

The good news is that, at least by Wednesday’s final press conference, Valdez, Rueda and even Lomachenko’s manager, Klimas, will know, and the world of boxing, like the soap opera, will keep turning.

The best part of that is that Valdez, an unbeaten 25-year-old with a 19-0 record that includes 17 knockouts, will be in a spotlight he deserves.

Like Lomachenko, he is a two-time Olympian and as popular in Mexico as he is fast-rising in his division. When he lost to Lomachenko in the semifinals of 2009 World Championships in Milan, Italy, it got him a bronze medal and made him the first from his country to get a medal in that event. When he lost to Irishman Johnny Joe Nevin in the London Olympics, in a match that would have achieved at least a bronze medal with a victory, he wanted that so badly for his country that he was devastated.

“My world fell on me that day,” Valdez said. “I thought I had won. When the fight ended, I went to my corner and looked at my trainer. He is an honest guy. He tells me when he thinks I have lost. I could see it in his face. He thought we won a bronze medal.”

Valdez had missed the opening ceremonies because he had to fight the next day. He missed the closing ceremonies “because I was too sad.” He also missed both in Beijing, for similar reasons.

“I regret that now,” he said. “You cannot be a sore loser.

He said two things really picked him up in the aftermath of that near miss at an Olympic medal in London.

“When we got back to Mexico City,” he said, “the people just lifted me. Mexicans can be tough critics, but they seemed to understand that I had done my best and they treated me so well.”

The reaction of his opponent, Nevin, after that bronze-medal match, also helped.

“He sent out a tweet,” Valdez said, “that said: ‘It is an honor to win over a future pro world champ.’ ”

Valdez said he will watch the Rio Olympics with great interest, “because I have friends on the boxing team who wanted to make it in 2012 and now are there.”

But first things first. He has a big fight Saturday night. It will be on the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast. A victory will mean an impressive 20-0 start as a pro.

And, oh yes. How could we forget? It is for a world title.

www.fightnews.com/Boxing/oscar-valdezs-title-search-347818

i Andy Lee hasn’t fought since December, but the former middleweight titlist is ready to get back in the ring this fall. Chris Farina/Top Rank

A few notes from around the boxing world:

  • Former middleweight world titleholder Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) told ESPN.com he hopes to return to the ring this fall. “I haven’t anything in the works at the moment but I hope to return in the fall,” he said. “I took a little time off as the last three years have been intense. Now I’m looking forward to returning to the ring refreshed. I’ve kept ticking over in the gym and when I return I’d like to fight [secondary titleholder] Danny Jacobs or have a rematch with [titleholder Billy Joe] Saunders. My ultimate goal is to regain a title and challenge [Gennady Golovkin].” In December, Lee, of Ireland, got knocked down twice in the third round by Saunders and lost his title by majority decision. In 2014, Lee, 32, was scheduled to challenge Golovkin for his title but when Golovkin’s father died — just as the deal was being wrapped up — the fight was canceled while Golovkin returned home to Kazakhstan for his father’s funeral and to be with his family.
  • The date is set for the fight between cruiserweight world titleholder Krzysztof Glowacki and mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. There had been two options, but it will take place Sept. 17 at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, organizers announced on Wednesday. The sides made a deal two weeks ago to avoid a purse bid for the fight, which shapes up as an action-packed match. The 29-year-old Glowacki (26-0, 16 KOs), of Poland, who won the belt in dramatic comeback fashion by knocking out long-reigning titleholder Marco Huck in the 11th round last August, will be making his second defense. Usyk (9-0, 9 KOs), 29, who won the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medal for Ukraine, has moved quickly as a professional but will be taking a big step up in competition against Glowacki.
  • All-Star Boxing promoter Tuto Zabala announced that he has signed featherweight Matias Adrian Rueda (26-0, 23 KOs), of Argentina, to a promotional agreement. The 28-year-old is scheduled to face Mexico’s Oscar Valdez (19-0, 17 KOs) for a vacant world title July 23 (HBO PPV) on the Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “I’m thrilled to have signed with Tuto’s company,” Rueda said. “[Zabala and] Mario Margossian of Argentina Boxing Promotions will take my career to another level in the United States.” Said Zabala: “We had Matias on a ‘Boxeo Telemundo’ show last October and he looked impressive. Working with him and longtime friend Mario Margossian made it a no-brainer. He will be the next world champion of Argentina.”

www.espn.com.au/blog/dan-rafael/post/_/id/16209/notes-andy-lee-eyes-fall-return-and-big-names