In the much-anticipated Mexican Derby, it was Oscar Valdez that became the new WBC Super Featherweight champion, and a two-weight world champion, with a stunning tenth round knockout win over the long-serving former champion, Miguel Berchelt.
The contest topped the latest Top Rank offering from The Bubble inside the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Valdez was having just his second contest at the weight after serving as a Featherweight world champion, while Berchelt had reigned as WBC champion for four years, spanning six successful title defences.
Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs), a stablemate of Canelo Alvarez, began the contest by feinting and loading up with his shots, while Berchelt was setting up his shots and trying to find his range with the jab in a surprisingly quiet opener.
The 30-year-old’s jab and movement was forcing Berchelt (37-2, 33 KOs) to follow him around the ring, and the former WBO Featherweight champion had made a bright start, although he was caught with a flush right hand at the end of the third which he took well.
Berchelt looked laboured, and was nailed with a hard left hand in the fourth that wobbled him badly, leaving him on unsteady legs. Valdez poured on the pressure, and stiffened the 29-year-old’s legs again with a well timed uppercut, and yet more hammer hooks left him on spaghetti legs.
🎥 That ringside view …
Take it all in. Just wow, @oscarvaldez56. 🇲🇽#BercheltValdez | #AndTheNew | ESPN pic.twitter.com/KBXolCcG41
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 21, 2021
With only the ropes holding him up as he was driven back, he was counted and barely survived the round.
The minute’s rest was not enough for Berchelt, and he ate more power left hooks to begin the fifth, with referee Russell Mora warning him that he needed to show something to remain in the fight.
‘El Alacaran’ only knew one mode of defence and that was to attack, and it was allowing Valdez to continue to time his man as he rushed in, which looked a dangerous game to play.
Berchelt found success to the body in the sixth, and had a much better round, as he stalked the challenger, who was warned for rabbit punches towards the end of the session.
Berchelt was coming on a lot stronger, and the seventh saw him connecting a lot more, especially with his right, although Valdez roared back at the end of the frame with yet another power left hand.
The challenger returned to his boxing in round eight to bamboozle Berchelt, who was again forced to hunt down his opponent, who was switch hitting effectively.
The ninth saw Berchelt hit the deck again, after an uppercut followed by a rapid combination. He survived the count, but looked hurt and weary and Valdez put the exclamation mark on a masterclass with a highlight reel, monster left hook that left Berchelt flat on his face right at the end of the tenth to end proceedings.
Berchelt was down for some time, and thankfully got to his feet, as Valdez moved to 29-0 and became a dual weight world champion.
When one wins, the whole stable wins. 🇲🇽🤝 pic.twitter.com/uUJL108NQ6
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 21, 2021
“There is nothing better in life than proving people wrong,” said the new champion to ESPN.
“Don’t let anyone in life tell you what you can and can’t do, always prove them wrong.
Congrats champ @oscarvaldez56 I respect what you did tonight surprised me.. It’s only 1 FIGHT to make now!
— Shakur Stevenson (@ShakurStevenson) February 21, 2021
“I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t want any regrets in taking the fight. I trained so hard for this fight, I want to go back now and spend time with my family. I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight, let’s do it”.
Flores Jr stops Velez in six
The chief support bout went the way of Gabriel Flores Jr, and he impressed in knocking out Jayson Velez in six rounds at Lightweight.
Flores Jr (20-0, 17 KOs) caught Velez (29-8-1, 21 KOs) with a left hand high on the top of the head that scrambled his senses. The Puerto Rican beat the count, and fought fire with fire which proved his downfall, as a well timed left, right on the chin floored him for a second time, where the fight was waved off.
At Middleweight, Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KOs) forced former two-time world title challenger, Arthur Akavov (20-4, 9 KOs), to retire after four rounds of action, and at Welterweight, Elvis Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs) went the distance for the first time in his career, defeating Luis Alberto Veron (18-3-2, 9 KOs) over eight by scores of 79-73 (twice) and 78-74.
Also at Welterweight, 18-year-old Xander Zayas (7-0, 5 KOs) remained undefeated, winning all six rounds against James Martin (6-2).
Puerto Rico Super Lightweight Omar Rosario (1-1) knocked out Uriel Villanueva in two to go to 3-0 (1 KO) while at Middleweight, Javier Martinez (3-0, 1 KO) needed just under two minutes to stop Billy Wagner (3-2, 1 KO).