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I Should Have Known Better Than To Pick Against You, Oscar Valdez

Michael Woods

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We should have known, like Bob Arum did, that thinking the old adage “a good big man beats a good little man” wouldn’t be germane for the Oscar Valdez versus Miguel Berchelt clash on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 at the MGM Bubble in Las Vegas.

Berchelt is a beast, he’s gonna be too strong for Oscar Valdez, who gets lured into wars and will be there for the taking in the super featherweight clash. That was a popular conception going in, but not so much in round four, when Valdez sent his fellow countryman to the mat. And it could have ended there, but ref Russell Mora did Berchelt a favor of sorts not waving the fight off when his legs were iffy as fuck.

Oscar Valdez lands a killer left hook on Miguel Berchelt in winning the WBC super featherweight title on Feb. 20, 2021.

Oscar Valdez wasn’t as big, but he was just better than Berchelt on Feb. 20, 2021. (Photos by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

And were you kicking yourself if you had predicted the 5-7 plus Berchelt to win, in round nine, when you figured out that Berchelt’s stubborn refusal to move his head and/or torso in the name of defense made him a sweet and easy target? And did you hate your pick more as the 5-6 Valdez switched stance, and landed a right hook, and assessed his foe so cooly, seeking and finding opening again and again and again? When the jab-right uppercut-left hook combo had Berchelt in drowning waters, and on the mat? And finally, in round ten, you were likely kicking yourself mentally because it didn’t matter that Berchelt looked two weight classes bigger than Oscar Valdez (now 29-0 with 23 KOs) when Valdez used Berchelt’s aggression against him. While retreating, Valdez landed a stun-gun left hook. No count needed, Berchelt (now 37-2, and possibly compromised by the damage he absorbed at the hands of Valdez) crumpled onto his face and his stillness told Mora that to count would be extraneous.

You kicking yourself for picking Berchelt ceased while after this Knockout of the Year candidate, you saw the loser on his back, not responsive and you had a flashback to other occasions when that happened.

A left missed badly, a right missed badly, another left hit nothing but air….and Valdez saw a juicy opening, and pulled the trigger on the stun gun left hook. We worried after yelling, “Oh shit!”

Then Berchelt stirred, and sat up. So your critique of self continued…. Will you remember all that the next time this sort of match gets made and you are tempted to pick size over savvy?

Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt give each other respect after Valdez scores a stoppage in round ten.

And wasn’t this a thing of beauty afterwards, the show of mutual respect? (Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

Here is the release Top Rank sent out after the card ended:

LAS VEGAS (February 20, 2021) — Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt promised an all-Mexican clash for the ages. They delivered. Valdez knocked out Berchelt with a left hook at the end of the 10th round to win the WBC super featherweight world title from Berchelt, who was making his seventh title defense. 

The hook crumpled Berchelt, who fell face-first to the canvas, and referee Russell Mora immediately waved off the fight.

Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) was badly hurt and knocked down in the fourth, but steadied himself and continued to pressure Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) throughout the middle rounds. Valdez turned the tide once again in the ninth with a knockdown,  and with the 10th round in hand,  he lowered the boom.

Oscar Valdez has eyes in the ring that remind you of Mike Singletary.

Give extra credit to the guys, like Oscar Valdez, who have the Mike Singletary eyes.

Oscar Valdez said, “There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong. I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out. I have a message to everybody: Don’t’ let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.

 “I want to take this belt home, and I’m happy for that. Any champion out there… I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight. Let’s do it. I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want.”

Flores Dominates Velez in Co-Feature

It’s time to crown Stockton’s King. Gabriel Flores Jr., the junior lightweight sensation from Stockton, California, made an emphatic statement, knocking out former world title challenger Jayson Velez in the sixth round.

Flores (20-0, 7 KOs) knocked down Velez twice in the sixth, punctuating the victory with a left hook.

Flores (20-0, 7 KOs; pictured below) became only the second man to stop Velez (29-8-1, 20 KOs), who was knocked out in 10 rounds by Oscar Valdez last July.

Miguel Flores impressed on the undercard of the card topped by Oscar Valdez.

Flores said, “I could’ve done it earlier. I was playing with my food. {Trainer Gabriel Flores Sr.} told me I just gotta press it. Nothing was really going on those first five rounds, to be honest. I was just feeling him out. 

“I would love to get the winner of Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton. I’d love that. I’m going to keep on working, and my performances are going to get better and better.”

In undercard bouts:

Middleweight: Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KOs) TKO4 Artur Akavov (20-4, 9 KOs). Falcao, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist from Brazil, picked up the most significant win of his career with a one-sided drubbing of two-time middleweight world title challenger Akavov. After a rough opening round, Falcao was in command until Akavov’s corner stopped the fight following the fourth round. All three judges for this Oscar Valdez-Miguel Berchelt undercard attraction had Falcao ahead 39-37 at the time of the stoppage.

Jr. Welterweight: Elvis Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs) UD 8 Luis Alberto Veron (18-3-2, 9 KOs). Scores: 79-73 2x and 78-74. Rodriguez made his name as an explosive puncher, but showed his maturity and boxing acumen against Veron, a former WBO Latino belt-holder who has never been stopped as a pro. Rodriguez stunned Veron several times with right hooks, but the Argentine veteran was able to withstand the onslaught.

Rodriguez (pictured below) said, “This was my first scheduled eight-round fight, and I actually think I got a lot of good experience. Each fight, you acquire something different, and for this fight, I think the experience of going the rounds actually helped me out.

 “It’s a great experience going the full eight rounds. It’s back to the gym to work on several things, specifically I know I needed to let my hands go a little more. When I did do that, I was able to hurt him. But in the end, I think it was a great experience. He’s a natural welterweight. He’s never been stopped, so I knew it would be a tough challenge, but you know I will go back to the gym and work harder to continue to grow in this sport.”

Welterweight: Xander Zayas (7-0, 1KO) UD 6 James Martin (6-2, 0 KOs). Scores: 60-54 3x. The 18-year-old Zayas went past the first round for the first time in nearly a year, outboxing the Philadelphia native Martin en route to the shutout victory underneath the Oscar Valdez v Miguel Berchelt feature.

Zayas said, “As a young fighter, you need these types of fights. I haven’t been out of the first round in nearly a year, so for me to get six round in, that was important.”

Middleweight: Javier Martinez (3-0, 1 KO) TKO 1 Billy Wagner (3-2, 1 KO), 1:51. Martinez, a southpaw from Milwaukee, unloaded on Wagner, stunning the Montana native early in the first round with a right hook. The one-way traffic was stopped shortly thereafter, and Martinez added a ‘1’ to the knockout column.

Jr. Welterweight: Omar Rosario (3-0, 1 KO) KO 2 Uriel Villanueva (1-1), 2:38. Former Puerto Rican amateur superstar Rosario notched the first stoppage win of his career, as two knockdowns in the second round prompted referee Robert Hoyle to stop the fight.

The Top Rank crew gets a bit of a break, they are back next on March 20, with a card topped by a light heavyweight attraction, Artur Beterbiev vs. Adam Deines.

Oscar Valdez impressed on Feb. 20, Artur Beterbiev can make an impression on March 20.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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