Oscar Valdez vs. Jason Sanchez on June 8 LIVE on ESPN
By Chris Williams: WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez be defending his title next month against #14 WBO fringe contender Jason Sanchez on June 8 on ESPN and ESPN Deportes from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. The televised portion of the Valdez vs. Sanchez fight card will start at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
Valdez is now trained by Eddy Reynoso, the same trainer that has been in IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez his entire career. It’s thought that Valdez signed up with Reynoso in order to improve his defensive ability, as he was taking way too much punishment since turning pro. It’s still hard to say whether Valdez improved under Reynoso’s watch, because he hasn’t fought anyone good since his war with Scott Quigg. Once Top Rank throws Valdez into the deep end by matching him a good featherweight like Gary Russell Jr. or Leo Santa Cruz, then we’ll see if Reynoso has improved his game. Don’t hold your breath waiting for either of those fights to happen. If Valdez only fights guys like Jason Sanchez, he could keep his WBO title for many years before he finally gets beaten.
This will be the second consecutive fight for the 2012 Olympian Valdez (25-0, 20 KOs) against a fringe contender since returning from an 11-month layoff last February after suffering a broken jaw in a 12 round unanimous decision win over Scott Quigg in March of 2018 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Valdez came back on February 2 to defeat little known Carmine Tommasone by a seventh round knockout on undercard of Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez in Frisco, Texas. The way that Top Rank is matching Valdez since he returned from his jaw injury, it could be that they don’t want to take any chances with him that he might suffer another injury that could lead to a shortened career. With the way that Valdez has absorbing punishment in his fights against Quigg, Miguel Marriaga and Genesis Servania, he might not have a lot career.
“Jason Sanchez is the real ‘Cinderella Man,’” said Top Rank boss Bob Arum. “He is young, hungry and capable of pulling off a major upset. It should be an exciting battle.”
This business about the 24-year-old Sanchez being a “real Cinderella Man” is code for him being a HUGE underdog against the more talented and experienced Valdez, and having next to no chance of winning the fight. This is like from the movie, ‘Rocky,’ in which a horribly over-matched Rocky Balboa takes on Apollo Creed, but it’s worse than that. Rocky could at least punch. Sanchez has no power whatsoever. Unless Valdez suffers another jaw injury, he’s going to cruise to a quick knockout victory. This is Sanchez’s 15 minutes of fame in getting a world title shot that he arguably doesn’t deserve, and has done nothing to earn. He’s just a some guy with an unbeaten record that has been picked from near the bottom of the WBO’s rankings for Valdez to take for a stay busy fight.
Quigg took advantage of Valdez’s bad habit of fighting with his mouth open by nailing him with a right hand to the head in round five that broke his jab, and hurt him. Although Valdez wa able to box his way to a 12 round decision victory, it came at a great cost with him losing a year or his career due to the jaw injury. Valdez with his mouth open for the second half of the fight against Quigg. Blood was streaming out of Valdez’s mouth in the last seven rounds.
The 24-year-old Sanchez, nicknamed “El Alacrancito”, hasn’t fought anyone of note since turning pro seven years ago in 2012. That’s one of the reasons why Sanchez is ranked so low with the World Boxing Organization, because he hasn’t been fighting quality opposition. Top Rank picked Sanchez out from the near bottom of the WBO’s top 15 contenders. The positive for Valdez is he probably won’t much punishment in this fight. Sanchez isn’t a puncher, so Valdez should be able to get him out of there early like he did against his last opponent, the light hitting fringe contender Carmine Tommasone last February. The downside for Valdez and Top Rank is the fight isn’t going to get much attention from the casual or hardcore boxing fans, because they haven’t heard of Sanchez. He’s a totally obscure fighter. You hate to say it, but Valdez’s career has been frozen since his fight against Quigg. It wasn’t an impressive performance by Valdez in winning that fight, and then he sat out of the ring for a year. It looks like Top Rank is going to have Valdez devote the entire 2019 year fighting obscure opposition, which means he’s losing another year of his career without his popularity increasing. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. You would think that with Valdez being out of the ring, he should be ready to take on elite level opposition once again, but it appears that Top Rank doesn’t want to put him in with any of the good featherweight contenders like Shakur Stevenson, Joet Gonzalez, Carl Frampton, Jessie Magdaleno, and Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Valdez could probably beat all those guys, but he would take punishment for sure in winning, and he could be back on the shelf with another career shortening injury. Valdez was hurt in his fight against Marriaga in April 2017.
When Valdez came back for his next fight against Genesis Servania five months later in September 2017, he was surprisingly dropped in the fourth round. That wasn’t a flash knockdown. Valdez legitimately hurt by Servania. Some in the boxing world believe that Valdez’s punch resistance was compromised by the big shot he took by Marriaga, a fighter with heavy hands. If Top Rank is going to put Valdez only with feather-fisted fighters like Jason Sanchez and Carmine Tommasone, he should be fine, because he can handle their kind of shots. But like I said, Valdez’s popularity is going to stagnate to the extreme.
“I’m excited to be back in the ring for the sixth defense of my world title. I know there is a big target on my back because I’m the champion, but nobody is going to take this title away from me,” Valdez said. “This will be my second fight training with Eddy Reynoso.”
There’s a target on Valdez’s back, but none of the talented guys in the featherweight division will likely get a shot at fighting him, especially if he’s being matched the way he is right now againt bottom feeders like Sanchez and Carmine Tommasone. It would be refreshing to see Top Rank put Valdez in with a live body to see how well he does. Even if they have to pool from the super bantamweight to put him in with guys like Emanuel Navarrete, Daniel Roman or Rey Vargas, it would be nice to see. Valdez vs. Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis would be an excellent fight as well. Miguel Berchelt vs. Valdez would also be an excellent fight. It’s doubtful that Vargas would beat any of those guys, but they’d be fun fights to watch. There would be no losers in fights like that. It wouldn’t matter if Valdez lost to them, as long as he puts up a great fight, his popularity would increase. With the way way Valdez is being matched now by Top Rank against no name fighters like Tommasone and Sanchez, he might as well be retired, because he’s not getting the attention that he used to.