On February 20th, 2021, Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) will defend his WBC Super Featherweight Title against fellow Mexican boxer Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs), his seventh title defense.
Valdez looks to capture a second world title, and enters with an 80% KO percentage. Berchelt boasts an impressive 90% knockout ratio and doesn't plan on giving up his title easily. This fight has two of the best fighters in the division willing to put it all on the line and has all the makings of manifesting itself into an explosive showdown that will be talked about for years to come. (Click here to learn about the undercard.)
Miguel Berchelt (below) recently sat down for an interview on a YouTube boxing talk channel, “Gancho Al Higado (Shot to the Liver),” hosted by Juan Alberto Perez and Angel Grijalva. In the interview, Berchelt discusses his thoughts about the upcoming fight and Oscar Valdez.
Alberto opened up the interview welcoming Berchelt and asking the champion how’s he doing. The 29-year-old Berchelt answered, “Hello, how is everyone doing? I am happy and anxiously waiting for fight day. Like you mentioned, the fight is only nine days away. I’m excited to start packing, head to the airport, get on the plane and settle into my hotel room at the MGM, which is a venue that I have always wanted to headline, and I'm ready for war on the 20th.”
“Excellent, excellent,” responded Alberto. “Many in the boxing world know who you are and that you are world champion, but for those people who may not have heard of you, please tell them a little bit about yourself so they can get to know you better. Who is Miguel Angel Berchelt Ceverea?
Miguel Berchelt smiled and responded, “Well, my name is Miguel Angel Berchelt Ceverea. I am 29 years old, originally from Cancun. I made four appearances in the national Olympics before moving to Meridia. I was there for three years with Max Boxing Promotions. After my first loss, I left and came to Hermosillo, Sonora, to work with trainer Alfredo Caballero and have been here for eight years. I'm a quiet guy. I don't like to talk much and prefer to stay home. Honestly, the life of a boxer is busy and consumes much of my time. I love to walk my dogs, listen to music, and play video games. I consider myself to be a normal guy despite being a world champion.”
Grijalva excitedly chimed in and said, “This is a Mexican dream match on February 20th. We have two of the best fighters in the world facing off against each other, and we also have two of the best trainers in the world facing each other. How’s your team doing?”
Miguel Berchelt confidently responded, “We are extremely motivated. Caballero and I love a fight like this because of all the excitement and controversy surrounding it. A fight like this divides the fanbase because we are two great fighters. Even though I am the champion, we respect our opponent. We know he has a great team in his corner, just like Canelo's team. However, we are going to do our job. We may not garner the same attention, we may not be mentioned as much as we like or much as we should, but we will demonstrate to everyone that we do things the right way. We are going to reach our goals through hard work and dedication. I'm defending my title for the seventh time against Oscar. I have been a world champion for four years, and I hope to keep this title for years to come. We will see what happens on the 20th.”
Alberto turned his attention to Valdez’ team and asked, “Speaking of the teams in the corner. Have you studied your rival? This will be Oscar’s fifth fight with Eddy Reynoso on his team. What do you think of Valdez’s new team? Did you notice any advantages or disadvantages in Valdez?”
“I think that Eddy Reynoso focuses on a counter-punching style. I don't think he likes his fighters to take a lot of punishment, so he imposes Canelo Álvarez’s style onto all his fighters. He needs to recognize that not all fighters are the same. While “El Gallo” (making comparisons to Juan Fransisco Estrada, who Caballero also trains) has a nice style and boxes very well, I’m a natural knockout puncher. So, I am aware I can’t fight the way “Gallo” would fight, it can expose me to being grabbed and limit my ability to use my punching power. You got to focus on every fighter individually. Identify his strengths and work on his weaknesses. In my case, Caballero told me that, ‘I punch hard and attack my opponent very well. However, I need to work on my defense,’ and that's been our focus. On the other hand, “El Gallo” is fast and throws 3-4 punch combinations in rapid succession. Caballero focuses on bringing the best out in each fighter, not imposing the same style on all his fighters. I know for sure that Oscar will be well prepared. There are two great teams in each corner, and without a doubt, the real winners will be the fans because they will bear witness to an excellent fight,” said Berchelt.
Grijalva then went on to praise Miguel Berchelt for his resume and said that he had faced tough opposition and, in the same breath, asked the world champion if he thinks Valdez is the most dangerous opponent yet. Berchelt modestly replied, “Any time a world champion defends his title, it's always the most important fight because his future relies on it. I can tell you that I have faced dangerous opponents like Takashi Miura, a southpaw that hit tremendously hard and applied pressure the entire fight. After the fight on the 20th, I’ll let you know if Oscar is the most dangerous fighter I’ve ever faced. I can tell you without a doubt that Oscar is the most popular fighter I’ve ever faced. Oscar was well recognized before his pro debut because he represented us twice in the Olympics. He entered the pro ranks with a lot of notoriety, so he’s the fighter with the most media presence and most recognizable with the fans. Rarely do two fighters, with two great fan bases, that are equally skilled get a chance to fight each other. For these reasons, I believe this will be a great fight.”
Alberto immediately pointed out that Berchelt has the higher knockout ratio between the two fighters. He asked him, “What advantages do you have over Valdez, and how do you plan to capitalize on those advantages?”
The champ smiled and responded, “I think my record speaks for itself. I believe that I am a natural knockout producing fighter. I have more knockouts and more fights than he does. I think I have fought better opposition than he has. I fought Takashi Miura, Jason Sosa, Francisco Vargas twice, Jonathan Barros, and Miguel Roman. They were all the best and the toughest fighters in the division, I believe. I consider myself an intelligent fighter; I can box the way I did against Miura or fight going forward as I did against Bandido, Sosa, and Roman. The truth is I am ready. I don't know what Oscar is going to do that night, but I have two spoons ready to eat from either bowl. I am prepared to box, and I am prepared to face off in the middle of the ring; that's where I do my best fighting. I think the crowd is ready for two trains two collide, but we must remember that it takes two people to make a fight, and if one fighter doesn’t want to trade, then we can't make a fight out of it. So, we will have to see what the opposition brings. All I know is that I'm ready to defend my title at all cost, and I will conduct myself like a world champion.”
An excited Grijalva hopes that this fight can play out like Morales vs. Barrera. The interviewer asked, “Seventeen years ago, we had the same kind of match play out against Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. It, too, took place in Las Vegas, and it was for the same title. It was named fight of the year in 2004. Do you think that this fight can be the fight of the year headlined by two Mexican fighters? Do you think this fight can be the new Morales vs. Barrera and be the fight of the year between two Mexicans?”
“Yes, of course, I would love for this fight to be considered the fight of the year. I want future generations to remember this fight for years to come. I'm sure that boxing fans around the world have seen Morales vs. Barrera 1-3. They were shootouts in where both fighters lived up to the expectations of the boxing public. Every time there are two Mexicans in the ring, you get an action fight. I hope that the fight plays out like that on the 20th, but Morales Vs. Barrera set a high bar, honestly. However, I believe that Valdez and I will come through and give the fans a good fight. I think the high caliber of our skills and our styles lend themselves for a great fight.”
Grijalva switched topics and was curious to hear who Berchelt considers the top three fighters in the world pound for pound. Without any hesitations, the champion responded, “I like Saul Alvarez. I’m not particular to only Mexican fighters, and I don't envy any fighter. But I do believe that Saul has demonstrated that he is one of the best in his division, a division that a Mexican has never dominated, and he has. For those reasons, I put Saul number one. Number two is a dilemma; I’m torn between Spence and Crawford because I like them both. But I would have to place Crawford number two because of his activity and his skills. He's a fighter that can fight from the southpaw and orthodox stances. He fights very well from a distance and can close the gap quickly and fight on the inside. Spence is a tough southpaw who can box and has great punching power. Those are my top three.”
“Is there a rematch clause in the contract?” asked Grijalva.
“No, there isn't a rematch clause because it’s a mandatory defense of the title. However, if it turns out to be a great fight or it's close on the cards, then there can be the likelihood of a rematch,” answered the champ.
The interviewer then asked Miguel Berchelt to describe his relationship with Valdez. He noted that they initially had an amicable relationship, but recently it seems that it is turning into a heated rivalry. Berchelt stoically answered, “It's a topic that I've put on mute. I've always said that Oscar is my friend. I don't harbor any hate towards him. He’s a fellow that I respect and admire. I have followed him since the Olympics. Boxing is a small world, too small to have enemies. However, on fight night, I'm going to ignore all my admiration towards him, and I'm going to fight my fight. I am going to stick to my flight plan. Recently he told me that we aren't friends. That’s a good thing because now I won’t feel any pity when I hurt him. I will be victorious. No one knows the weight that one bears except the one that carries it. I recognize everything that I have sacrificed to get to this fight and this point in my life. It's another opportunity that life has given me to demonstrate that I am the best fighter in my division.”
The interviewers wrapped up the questions by asking the champ if he had any last word for the boxing public before the fight. Berchelt said, “I want to thank you for having me on, and I implore the fans to watch this fight. A fight of this caliber rarely gets a chance to manifest itself. This a chance for them to witness a great fight against two great pugilists and two great corners. Don’t miss it!”
My Take: Miguel Berchelt is a great fighter who takes a humble approach to life and his profession. He's a pressure fighter with explosive punching power. There isn’t a time during one of his fights where an opponent is safe from being knocked out. Valdez vs. Berchelt has the makings to be a great fight, and it's hard to predict a winner definitively. Oscar Valdez has the skills and the punching power to make things exciting and challenging for Berchelt. Valdez is the best opponent that Berchelt will have faced, and I can say the same for Valdez. While it is yet to be determined if this fight will live up to the classic that was Morales vs. Barrera, one thing I do know is that Berchelt and Valdez are going to wage war trying to make it so. While it is difficult to tell who will be victorious on the 20th, one thing that Berchelt said during the interview rings true: “The real winners will be the fans because they will bear witness to an excellent fight.”