Berchelt, Valdez Collide Live on ESPN and ESPN+ on Feb. 20th

By Boxing News - 02/17/2021 - Comments

Live Coverage Begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ – Live Weigh-in Coverage, Friday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes

This Saturday, Feb. 20, Top Rank on ESPN will be home to an all-Mexican championship clash when two of the sport’s most decorated action heroes – WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) and former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) clash in the highly anticipated showdown live from the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Live coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, with undercard action on ESPN+ (in English and Spanish). Main event coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+ (in English and Spanish).

Berchelt vs. Valdez will re-air on ESPN Deportes, Sunday, Feb 21 at 1 a.m. ET / 10 p.m. PST and 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT.

The co-main will feature a 10-round junior lightweight special attraction featuring undefeated 20-year-old Gabriel Flores Jr. against former world title challenger Jayson Velez. The featured bout on a loaded ESPN+ undercard matches unbeaten Brazilian middleweight contender and former Olympic Silver Medalist Esquiva Falcao against two-time world title challenger Artur Akavov. Also on the ESPN+ undercard are some of the top blue-chip prospects in the sport including Dominican knockout wizard Elvis Rodriguez and 18-year old Puerto Rican wunderkind Xander Zayas.

Brazilian middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao is coming back to America. After a pair of knockout wins last year in his home nation, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist will take on two-time world title challenger Artur Akavov in a 10-rounder Saturday, Feb. 20, from MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

In a junior welterweight special feature scheduled for eight or six rounds, knockout wizard Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez will face Argentine veteran Luis Alberto Veron.

Falcao-Akavov, Rodriguez-Veron, and additional undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+ at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT. The evening continues live on ESPN & ESPN3 (in Spanish) (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) with the all-Mexican showdown between WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt and former world champion Oscar Valdez, and junior lightweight contender Gabriel Flores Jr. against former world title challenger Jayson Velez.

Falcao (27-0, 19 KOs), ranked No. 5 by the IBF and WBO, is a seven-year pro who ended his sterling amateur career with a 215-15 record. He has won four consecutive bouts by knockout, including an eighth-round stoppage over Mexican veteran Jesus Antonio Gutierrez in July 2019. Akavov (20-3, 9 KOs) nearly dethroned WBO middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders, in December 2016, dropping a controversial decision. He was challenged for the same world title in January 2019 and was bested by Demetrius Andrade en route to a 12th-round TKO loss. Akavov last fought in October 2019 and knocked out 50-fight veteran Sergei Melis in five rounds.

Falcao said, “I am ready to face the best in my division. My opponent is a good boxer, but I am better, and I am ready to become a world champion. No fighter will stop me. I’m training very hard with Robert García. I’m sparring with the best because I am one of the best. On February 20, I will show the world once again that I am ready to become a world champion.”

Rodriguez (10-0-1, 10 KOs) emerged as one of boxing’s hottest prospects in 2020, going 5-0 with five knockouts, including four headline-making stoppages inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble. He last fought Oct. 9 and became only the second man to knock out 37-fight veteran Cameron Krael. Veron (18-2-2, 9 KOs) has never been knocked out as a professional and is a former WBO Latino and South American welterweight champion. He was coming off a competitive decision defeat to 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk in January 2020.

Rodriguez said, “I want to show that I am ready for the big fights. I think I deserved to be the Prospect of the Year. Not being named Prospect of the Year has motivated me more than ever. I am here to become a world champion. I am very grateful for the opportunities Top Rank is giving me and my entire team’s efforts. I am going to show who I am through my actions in the ring, not through words or social media.”

In other ESPN+ streaming action:

Xander Zayas (6-0, 5 KOs), the Puerto Rican prodigy who celebrated his 18th birthday last September, will clash with Philadelphia native James Martin (6-1) in a six-round welterweight fight. Zayas signed with Top Rank at 16 years old and hoped to extend his knockout streak to four against Martin, who has never been stopped in the paid ranks.

“Since my last fight, I’ve had an extended camp and have been fortunate to spar numerous world champions and top fighters, which has provided me a wealth of experience,” Zayas said. “I’m excited to fight on February 20 and put on a show for my fans.”

Unbeaten junior lightweights collide when California Central Valley favorite Bryan Lua (7-0, 3 KOs) fights Puerto Rican prospect Frevian Gonzalez (4-0, 1 KO) in a six-rounder. Gonzalez and Lua won two fights apiece inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble last year, with Lua scoring a highlight-reel knockout over Luis Norambuena in his first fight following a 27-month layoff.


Sonny “The Bronco” Conto (6-0, 5 KO), South Philadelphia’s latest heavyweight hopeful, is set to return from a 13-month layoff against Waldo Cortes (6-3, 3 KOs) in a four-rounder. Conto battled assorted injuries throughout 2020, but he is ready for a busier 2021. Cortes fought Bubble favorite Kingsley Ibeh last June, giving as good as he received before being knocked out in the fourth round.

Milwaukee-born middleweight sensation Javier Martinez (2-0) will make his third appearance inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, this time in a four-rounder against Montana native Billy Wagner (3-1, 1 KO).

One of Puerto Rico’s brightest young talents, Omar Rosario (2-0), will make his Las Vegas debut in a four-round welterweight tilt versus fellow unbeaten Uriel Villanueva (1-0). Rosario, a 23-year-old from Caguas, won the 2020 Olympic Trials for his home nation at 152 pounds before electing to turn pro.

Fight week and fight night programming will feature ESPN’s boxing commentary team, including veteran broadcaster Joe Tessitore for ringside commentary, alongside 2021 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, former two-division world champion and 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward, and future Hall of Famer Timothy Bradley on the analysis. The onsite location desk team will feature ESPN’s boxing reporter Bernardo Osuna and ESPN’s boxing insider Mark Kriegel.


Thurs. Feb 18
3:00 p.m.
Berchelt vs. Valdez Final Press Conference
ESPN App, ESPN’s YouTube Channel
Fri, Feb 19
5:00 p.m.
Berchelt vs. Valdez Official Weigh-In: 
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN App
5:30 p.m.
Max on Boxing
Sat., Feb 20
6:30 p.m.
Top Rank on ESPN: Berchelt vs. Valdez Undercards (Live)
10:00 p.m.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN: Berchelt vs. Valdez (Live)
ESPN, ESPN App (in Spanish)
Su., Feb 21
1:00 a.m.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN: Berchelt vs. Valdez (Re-Air)
ESPN Deportes
6:00 p.m.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN: Berchelt vs. Valdez (Re-Air)
ESPN Deportes


10:00 PM
Miguel Berchelt (C) vs. Oscar Valdez
WBC Junior Lightweight
Gabriel Flores Jr. vs. Jayson Velez
6:30 PM
Esquiva Falcao vs. Artur Akavov
Luis Alberto Veron vs. Elvis Rodriguez
Bryan Lua vs. Frevian Gonzalez
Xander Zayas vs. James Martin
Waldo Cortes vs. Sonny Conto
Javier Martinez vs. Billy Wagner
Uriel Villanueva vs. Omar Rosario