On February 25th, super lightweight prospect Nestor Bravo (21-0, 15 KOs) will make the first defense of his WBO-NABO title against Mexican native Jair Valtierra (16-2, 8 KOs) at the Caribe Royale, Orlando.
Bravo, fighting out of Orlando, FL, by way of Puerto Rico, recently sat down with NYFights and provided some insight into his boxing career, his fight against Valtierra, and what we can expect from Team Bravo in 2023.
When he sat down for the interview, Bravo seemed to be in shape and looked like he was ready to fight right there and then. The 29-year-old known as “El Mas Bravo” (The Bravest) was enthusiastic and insisted he’s prepared to elevate his career with a statement win against the Mexican.
“I feel blessed, I feel good, and I feel ready,” Bravo said. “We just closed out our sparring sessions with a maximum number of rounds and some really talented fighters. I feel amazing. I’m ready to put on a show. And I can tell you one thing, I am defending my title and is going to stay here in Florida and, more importantly, Puerto Rico.”
Bravo was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. When he was eight years old, his parents decided to move to Florida. As a child, Nestor loved to fight and adapted to his new domicile by letting his hands fly, often at school. “My mom got called into the school office like every day,” recalled Bravo. After one of those visits to the school, Nestor's father decided that he had to channel his son's love for fighting into a positive and controlled environment. Bravo fell in love with boxing as soon as he stepped into the gym. After some time, Bravo developed a deep amateur pedigree and would win numerous national and international tournaments.
Having accomplished all he could as an amateur, Nestor and his father decided it was time to turn professional. The Puerto Rican Native debuted on February 21st, 2015, and is undefeated in twenty-one professional outings. Bravo describes himself as an action fighter that loves to fight. However, fighters of Nestor’s pedigree can box, and he will box if he needs to. But the thrill of trading blows is what excites him the most. “I love to fight. I can box and feel like I can do everything in the ring, but I love to fight. I love to trade and see who's stronger. I can box, and I can do it, but those that have seen me know it's going to be an action-packed fight,” said Bravo confidently.
For a fighter that likes to fight, ouch, Bravo has only fought three times in the last three years. Like many other fighters, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to Nestor's inactivity for most of 2020. Additionally, opponents not making weight, backing out of fights, and the pesky business aspect of boxing have contributed to Bravo’s diminished ring appearances.
However, recently the elder Bravo has made some moves to ensure his son has an active year starting by successfully defending his NABO title this Saturday.
Jair Valtierra is a solid fighter whose last fight was a unanimous decision loss to lightweight prospect Raymond Muratalla on a televised Top Rank Card last July. The Mexican native is a good fighter, but Bravo seems unphased and promises to retain his title in this Mexico vs. Puerto Rico showdown.
“Everybody knows that Mexicans come to fight. Puerto Rico vs. Mexico is a great rivalry. I know he’s a great fighter. I got nothing but respect towards him, but at the end of the day, nobody's taking away from me what I've sacrificed so much for. This is my job, and I'm ready to do it,” said Bravo to NYFIGHTS.
Time keeps on ticking, and it waits for no one. Bravo is eight years and twenty-one fights into a professional career. Although he's undefeated, his career has stagnated, perhaps not at the level a fighter of his caliber should be. At this point in his career, a fighter of Bravo's quality should be well past prospect status. So does Nestor feel a sense of urgency to step on the gas pedal of his career? Does the door to contending for a major world title get narrower and narrower with each passing year?
“No, like right now, one of my stablemates, Subriel Matias, is 31 years old and fighting for the world championship. I feel like I'm in my prime. I'm 29. Let's say I get ranked this year. When I'm 30, I should have a world title shot. I know my opportunity is going to get there and trust me, when it gets here, I'm not going to waste it,” said Bravo. (Check out this story which clues you in more on Subriel Matias.)
Women's boxing superstar Amanda Serrano is the most recognizable Puerto Rican champion with crossover mass appeal. However, Serrano is 34 and has been boxing professionally for thirteen years. Soon she will be nearing the twilight of her career. As a result, some Puerto Rican young guns are being touted as Puerto Rico's next star. Boxers like Xander Zayas and Armani Almestica have been identified as possible superstars to carry the mantle of great Puerto Rican champions once Serrano retires. So how did Nestor Bravo, a fighter who is recognized and respected within the Puerto Rican boxing community, get lost in the pool of today’s notable Puerto Rican boxers?
“You named it; it all comes down to promotion, honestly,” said Bravo as he leaned forward to answer the question. I countered his answer by asking if he believed his name should be mentioned alongside Xander Zayas and Edgar Berlanga. “Of course, definitely,” said Bravo confidently. Nestor continued, “you can ask any of them who Nestor Bravo is; they know who I am. They know what kind of fighter I am. They're special fighters, but they know I'm also a special fighter. I am a humble guy. I'm not cocky; I'm not that kind of person. I got to where I am because God is with me, and I work hard. We've done this little by little with no promotional company. We got to 20-0 with my dad, manager, and Nestor Bravo; that's it. Now we are on the right path, and everything is going fluently.
For the remainder of 2023, Team Bravo will take it one fight at a time, first focusing on the fight ahead of them this Saturday night. Nestor hopes that a win over Valtierra will raise his stock enough to start fighting the caliber of opponents that will bring him closer to contending for a world title some time next year. “I want to get that world title fight; I'm telling you, I'm not going to waste it. I've been waiting for this for so long, and I feel like it's my moment now. So, when it gets there, I'm going to leave my heart there, and I'm going to bring a title back to Puerto Rico,” concluded Bravo.
My Take: Nestor Bravo innately likes to fight; in my experience, those kinds of fighters usually excite and thrill fans. Bravo is a pressure fighter with power in both hands who is most comfortable breaching his opponent's guard and trading punches. On the other hand, Jair Valtierra is a solid fighter who is comfortable fighting off his back foot and has a suspect chin. Additionally, Valtierra doesn’t possess the firepower necessary to ward off Bravo’s attack. Everything is in the Puerto Ricans' favor to win this fight. Therefore, look for Bravo to finish the Mexican native within the distance and retain the WBO-NABO super lightweight title. However, after Saturday night, Bravo's team needs to start making some serious moves that position Bravo to fight the kind of opponents that will help him achieve his dream of becoming a world champion.