Tuesday inside The Bubble in Las Vegas sees a big name take centre stage, and a former World champion on the undercard, as Top Rank host their final show before returning in mid-August.
Oscar Valdez (27-0, KO21) is at the head of affairs on this bill, as he continues his foray up at Super-Featherweight after a long reign as WBO Featherweight king.
The California based Mexican turned over in Mexico in November 2012, and was quickly noted as something of a knockout artist, with his first eleven outings ending via the short route.
A September 2015 fifth round stoppage of former World title challenger Chris Avalos was a breakthrough win for Valdez, and two fights later, he impressively dismantled Evgeny Gradovich in four to earn a shot at the vacant WBO crown.
There, he came up against Matias Rueda, who was simply no match for him in a one-sided second round stoppage.
His first defence would be a seventh round stoppage of Hiroshige Osada in Las Vegas, but Valdez would then be forced to go the full twelve rounds in his next three assignments including a brutal and bloody affair with Scott Quigg.
Valdez came in over weight, and had his jaw broken in the fourth, but broke Quigg’s nose and controlled the violent action for a wide points win.
The Mexican defended twice more in 2019, a seventh round knockout of Carmine Tommasone was followed by a points win against Jason Sanchez in his last fight as a Featherweight.
Going on to make a Super-Featherweight debut in November 2019 in his last fight, winning a WBC title eliminator, but having to come off the canvas to do so in a seventh round win against Adam Lopez.
Valdez’s opponent at the MGM Grand is a ring rust shaker at best. Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez (29-6-1, KO21) is the man in the opposite corner, and is a former World title challenger.
Velez went 22 unbeaten before challenging common opponent Evgeny Gradovich for the IBF Featherweight title in 2014, but the pair couldn’t be separated in a three way split draw.
After a comeback win though, the wheels spectacularly came off for Velez, as he suffered four straight defeats on the cards in 2015 and 2016.
He rebuilt with three straight wins, taking the unbeaten record of Alberto Machado, and stopping a faded Juan Manuel Lopez in the final round in a Puerto Rico derby.
Ryan Garcia proved too fresh for him though in May 2018, with the hot prospect winning wide on the cards over ten.
He again won thee on the trot, including a May 2019 fourth round knockout of former WBC Super-Bantamweight champion, Victor Terrazas, but suffered defeat in his most recent outing. A February 2020 split decision loss to Jaime Arboleda.
Prediction: Velez is tough, and has never previously been stopped, so a stoppage win is a big ask for Valdez. The Puerto Rican has also been the ten round distance some ten times, so is used to fighting at pace.
I can see Valdez starting off fast and looking for an early win, but the fight should set into a pattern after the early exchanges, and Oscar should pull away for a wide points win.
Heading up the undercard is former WBO Super-Bantamweight champion, Isaac Dogboe (20-2, KO14), and the Ghanaian moves up to Featherweight for an intriguing eight-rounder against the faded former World title challenger, Chris Avalos (27-7, KO20).
Dogboe is coming off back-to-back defeats to Emmanuel Navarrete, the last by final round stoppage, and will look to make an immediate impact at his new chosen weight class.
Avalos lost in an IBF Super-Bantamweight title challenge in February 2015 in five rounds to Carl Frampton, including that defeat, he is 2-5 in his last seven fights.
One of those bouts was a second title challenge in October 2017, when he was knocked out in eight in a challenge for Leo Santa Cruz’s WBA Featherweight crown.
Chris decided to take two years out of the sport before being widely outscored over ten in Puerto Rico by the 7-0-1 Abimael Ortiz, so his ambitions are now somewhat limited.
Prediction: Avalos has been stopped four times in seven defeats, and Dogboe can clinch an inside schedule success in this one.
A Super-Middleweight eight-rounder features big punching New Yorker Edgar Berlanga (13-0, KO13), a man with a 100% knockout success rate. He comes up against Eric Moon (11-2, KO6).
In the second of two Super Middleweight bouts, American-based Kosovan, Genc Pllana (8-1-1, KO4) and Raphael Igbokwe (14-2, KO6) go head to head.
Elvis Rodriguez (7-0-1, KO7) who was last seen knocking out Danny Murray at the beginning of the month, takes on Kenya’s Dennis Okoth (4-3-1, KO2) in a Super Lightweight six rounder.
However, the scheduled Heavyweight clash between prospects Guido Vianello (7-0, KO7) and Kingsley Ibeh has been cancelled after the latter tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.