Oscar Valdez puts on the performance of his career to become the new WBC junior lightweight champion!
Miguel Berchelt (37-2, 33 KOs) is looking to take the next step in his career. Making the seventh defense of the WBC junior lightweight title against Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs). The 29 year-old from Cancun, Mexico wants to progress from “well-respected” world champion to an “elite-level fighter.” However, there was cause for concern during the weigh-in. Yes, he made the junior lightweight limit but looked gaunt and rather emaciated.
Valdez is a fighter with something to prove. He’s undefeated and the former WBO world featherweight champion who made six defenses of that title. But for all his success, the 29 year-old from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico has been the subject of more criticism than praise. He’s highly motivated to become a two-division world champion and silence the doubters.
This was a fight that was greatly anticipated by hardcore fans. Taking place at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas, the expectation was this fight would be a war! Those expectations were correct!
GETTING REVVED UP
While Berchelt is known for his aggression and power, he can be a bit of a slow starter. It takes him a couple of rounds to warm up.
The challenger was intent on piling up points early on. Valdez’ main flaw has been his defense, but early on he did a good job of boxing and staying patient. He was looking to land with the jab. That jab paid off early. By the end of the second round, the champion was bleeding from the nose.
It was more of the same for Valdez in round four. He was fighting a beautiful fight. With 1:15 to go in the round, he landed a fantastic counter left hook that badly wobbled the champion. The former featherweight world champ continued to land with power shots. With ten seconds to go in the round, Berchelt fell back into the ropes. Referee Russell Mora decided to rule it a knockdown as he felt the ropes kept him from hitting the canvas. At the end of the round, the champ was on wobbly legs heading to the corner.
Amazingly, that sequence seemed to tick Berchelt off. In fifth and sixth rounds, he stepped up the pace and went on attack mode. He fought like feeling that he took his best shot and survived.
In the middle rounds, the discipline of Valdez seemed to fade. He was also showing signs of fatigue. Berchelt was exerting all kinds of physical pressure in round seven. It was turning into the war that many observers were expecting.
However, the eighth round saw Valdez switch tactics. He began to do more switch-hitting, fighting from the orthodox and southpaw stance. He slowed down the pace, creating angles to find a home for the left hook.
Success continued in round nine. With 1:06 to go in the ninth, Berchelt went down for a second time from a right uppercut/left hook combination. The only thing that was holding the champ up was his heart.
Valdez continued to land at will in round ten. The new strategy was working beautifully. He was landing shots flush on the face of Berchelt. Then BOOM! With seconds to go in the round, Valdez landed a titanic counter left hook/right hook combination. Berchelt was out on his feet before falling face-first on the canvas.
There was no need to count, the fight was over!
This was the best performance of Valdez’ career hands down! He was the underdog going into this fight and showed he was the superior fighter. After the fight, the new champ had a message. He told ESPN’s Bernado Osona:
“It’s nothing better than to prove haters wrong. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do.”
He certainly showed and proved against that Berchelt and is now a two-division world champ with many options down the road.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.