It might only be March, but Oscar Valdez has already put himself firmly in line to secure knockout of the year, following his devastating win over fellow Mexican Miguel Berchelt, last month.
Valdez defied the pre-fight odds which had then-WBC Super Featherweight champion, Berchelt a sizeable favourite, knocking down his compatriot twice before viciously ending the fight in a flash, with a one-punch left hook, which knocked the 29-year-old out cold in tenth round at the MGM Grand Conference Center, Las Vegas.
A knockout to rival any we’re likely to see this year, Valdez was given a hero’s welcome back in Mexico and became a two-weight world champion, having previously held the WBO Featherweight crown, ending Berchelt’s reign as WBC holder, which span six successful defences, as well as his unbeaten record.
Unbeaten Valdez, proved the naysers wrong in emphatic fashion, who doubted whether he could match-up to the established champions at 130lbs and is now arguably the man to beat in the division.
It should come as little surprise though, with the 30-year-old part of Eddy Reynoso’s thriving stable, which also includes WBC Interim titlist, Ryan Garcia, former unified Heavyweight world champion, Andy Ruiz Jr and unified Super Middleweight champion, Canelo Alvarez, who eased past Avni Yildirim in three rounds in Miami on Saturday.
For Valdez, the lucrative fights are looming and he insisted in his post-fight press conference he is open to any champion and is “not ducking” anyone for his first defence of his new Green and Gold belt.
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Gervonta Davis warned Valdez on social media in the immediate aftermath of his victory over Berchelt he would “tuck him in like a baby,” when presented with the possibility of a fascinating unification clash.
‘Tank’ holds the WBA ‘Super’ title at Super Featherweight after regaining his belt with a showreel knockout of Leo Santa Cruz in October, whilst is also the WBA ‘Regular’ champion at Lightweight.
I will tuck him in like a baby..👶🏼 https://t.co/PoNOyWBov6
— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) February 21, 2021
Lol hold up, Leo is far more accomplished than Valdez but he was too small right? Valdez comes from 26 but he’s not too small? Which narrative is it? Can’t have it both ways, btw Tank would knock him the fk out!💯 https://t.co/IllQ9ip6C1
— Leonard Ellerbe (@LEllerbe) February 21, 2021
The 26-year-old is one of the hardest punchers pound-for-pound with 23 of his 24 wins ending inside the distance, although Valdez provided a stark reminder of his power against Berchelt, with 23 of his victories coming by stoppage.
The Mexican has a slight height advantage, whilst Davis has the edge in reach. Both have been questioned on their size, although Tank is the more natural 130 pounder in what would be a guaranteed shootout and highly-anticipated fight if it could be made, with the Baltimore man aligned with Mayweather Promotions and Valdez with Top Rank.
Tank has also been linked to a huge showdown with Ryan Garcia, who named him as his number one target, after seeing a bout with eight-division champion, Manny Pacquiao fall through.
Shakur Stevenson has long-called for a fight with Valdez and believes it is the only fight to make.
Stevenson is also alligned with Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum echoes the American’s sentiments, recently claiming it would be the biggest clash outside of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury’s proposed undisputed Heavyweight title showdown, earmarked for June.
It’s only one fight to make now! #ValdezStevenson https://t.co/FEWJ5pEO98
— Shakur Stevenson (@ShakurStevenson) February 21, 2021
The pair have seemingly long been on a collision course, with Stevenson the mandatory challenger when Valdez was WBO Featherweight champion, who instead vacated enabling the 23-year-old to take the belt with a decision win over Joet Gonzalez.
The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist has won two in succession since moving up to 130lbs and is mandatory challenger to the victor of the April 3 meeting between WBO champion, Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton.
Stevenson is in a healthy position and with his supreme skill and speed, has drawn comparisons with former pound-for-pound great and 2021 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, Floyd Mayweather Jr, although Valdez has the power and experience to make this an intriguing match-up.
The New Jersey native, who is ranked at #2 by the WBC congratulated his rival after his recent victory, whilst Valdez admitted he was also open to the bout, saying post-fight: “I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight. Let’s do it.”
Leo Santa Cruz
Valdez’s clash with Berchelt was billed as one of the biggest all-Mexican showdowns of all-time, in the ilk of an Marco Antonio Barrera vs Erik Morales-type meeting.
Another experienced Mexican operator, Leo Santa Cruz could be an enticing possibility.
Four-weight world champion, Santa Cruz was relieved of his WBA ‘Super’ crown by Davis, suffering a devastating knockout defeat in San Antonio in October.
The 32-year-old appeared to be winning the fight with his boxing skill, before he was emphatically stopped and is ranked at #4 by the WBC, making a fight with Valdez a real possibility.
The pair have sparred in the past and a with a big Mexican-American contingency in California and Texas, a potential bout would be a commercial success, if the two opposing networks and promoters can reach a deal, with Santa Cruz with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
WBC #3 contender, O’Shaquie Foster has thrown his name into the running to face Valdez and could soon be in line for his shot.
Foster holds the WBC Silver Super Featherweight title and is unbeaten in eight since his second career reverse in 2016.
I’d fight Valdez next because he put on one hell of a performance last. But you right, I want to fight them all. Herring, Gutierrez and Gervonta would be great fights also. Colbert soft and scared, don’t make sense talking about fighting Lil Chris anymore. https://t.co/Lv2Y34kbd4
— O’Shaquie (S H⚡️C K) Foster (@OshaquieFoster) February 21, 2021
The 27-year-old, who is promoted by Lou Di Bella stopped former Berchelt opponent and world title challenger, Miguel Roman in nine rounds in November and has already called for the winner of Herring vs Frampton, as he looks for his opportunity to break through onto the world scene.
The Texan lacks the experience at world level and would be the underdog heading into a showdown with Valdez, but appears confident he could produce an upset.
Comment below on who you would like to see Oscar Valdez face next