By Jeff Aronow: Oscar Valdez is ready to walk through fire tonight to rip the WBC super featherweight title away from champion Miguel ‘El Alacran’ Berchelt in their possible ‘Fight of the Year’ match-up on ESPN.
Berchelt vs. Valdez is a fight that has been brewing for years, and Top Rank is bringing it to fans tonight from ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On paper, the bigger, stronger Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) has advantages over the smaller two-time Olympian Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs), but that may not be enough.
Valdez is one of those fighters that has an answer for size and power with his boxing skills, and he’s not a bad puncher himself.
He’s like an expert baseball pitcher with many different pitches that he can use to get a batter out. If Berhcelt comes onto the fight tonight looking to overpower Valdez with his size and brawn, he could come up empty.
The champion Berchelt needs a lot more than what he typically has been using to win tonight against a master boxer-puncher like Valdez.
Valdez ready to walk through fire
“This is going to be a classic war for as long as it lasts,” said Max Kellerman on Max on Boxing on ESPN. “Berchelt is a big favorite, probably too big of a favorite.
“There are plenty of people in the boxing industry, including Andre Ward, who feel that Valdez is multi-dimension enough to pull off the upset hear, even though he’s the one coming up in weight, even though he’s not the heavy-handed puncher in this fight.
“These two guys are going to; there are no two ways about it. Berchelt and Valdez can’t make a bad fight.
“You’re going to have to walk through fire to get the win. What’s going through your mind right now?” Kellerman asked Valdez.
“I’m willing to go through anything; I’ve been through it before,” said Oscar Valdez. “I’ve been sent to the canvas several times. I’ve fought with a fractured rib, and I’ve fought with a broken jaw.
“So that shows me I can go through anything inside the ring. I’m mentally prepared and physically prepared for this fight. I don’t just have one style.
“If it comes to it, we can brawl it out. I’m just really mentally and physically for this fight,” said Valdez about Berchelt.
Using head movement would be a good thing for Valdez to employ against Berchelt, and you can bet that his trainer Eddy Reynoso has been working with him on that.
Reynoso also trains Canelo Alvarez, who is excellent at avoiding punches. Valdez can do the same against Berchelt and slip his jabs and power shots so that he can avoid getting worn down by the bigger fighter.
Oscar to control his emotions
“You didn’t fight with a broken jaw, Oscar. You won with a broken jaw,” said Kellerman in talking about Valdez’s win over Scott Quigg in 2018.
“And you beat Scott Quigg with fighting half the fight with a broken jaw. That’s a difference there. That’s not being a game loser, as Teddy Atlas would say.
“And that’s the heart of a champion. You bring up the fact that you’re more multi-dimensional than he is, and that gets me to thinking.
“You have Eddy Reynoso as your trainer, and you don’t get hit as much, and you box and defend more responsibly.
“But sometimes I guy goes in that is multi-dimensional and because he can box, he automatically does when maybe it doesn’t serve his interests.
“I think about Miguel Cotto against Antonio Margarito, maybe moving a little too much early in that fight simply because he could. I felt at times that he needed to make a stand and push Margarito back,” said Kellerman.
“We both have our game plans, but a lot of times you get hit with that one punch, and the game plan goes out the window. You’ve got to brawl it out,” said Valdez.
“If it comes to it, we’re willing to brawl it out. That’s what the fans want to see, and we’re willing to do it. I’ve got to control myself sometimes because I let my emotions get the best of me, and I get too excited in there.
“I start opening up and getting a little too crazy. But at the same time, that’s what the crowd wants to see. They want to see great fights,” said Valdez.
“Like I said before, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to go in there and prove everybody wrong. We can box, but it all depends on how Berchelt comes in the starting round first,” Valdez said.
It would be a good idea for Valdez to see the Berchelt fight as similar to his match against Scott Quigg because he’s going to need to box Berchelt from the beginning if he doesn’t want to get hurt.
Berchelt has similar power to Quigg, and he can do damage to Valdez in a short period. Valdez suffered a broken jaw in the fifth round against Quigg, and he would have lost that fight if he didn’t adapt and box smart after sustaining the injury.
Winning in classic style important
“It’s more important for me to win, but I would love to win in a fashion way like a warrior and put up a good fight,” said Valdez.
“That’s an important thing, but the real important thing is to come out victorious no matter what.
“It seems like every time I come out victorious, the people like the style; they like the aggressive fighter who doesn’t care and goes in there and risks it all to come out victorious.
“It brings out the motivation in me to be considered one of those fighters that people know that we’re going to give it our best in the ring,” said Oscar.
“People already consider this fight as a possible ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. So that just brings out the motivation because I grew up watching fighters like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.
“So the fact that people are comparing this fight to that, two Mexican warriors coming forward, it’ll be an honor to me to inspire a new generation of boxers in the same way these boxers inspired me,” said Valdez.
Fighting in a classic war is important to Valdez, but he needs to control his warrior instincts against Berchelt.
If Berchelt wants bigger paydays, he’ll move up to 135 and go after the bigger names, but it depends on whether he wants the safety of fighting at 130 against guys he’s bigger than or if he wants the larger paydays but fights that he’s not certain to win t 135.
Valdez not worried about Berchelt’s size
“It’s not going to be an easy fight,” Valdez said about his match against Miguel Berchelt.
“I don’t think no other fighter out there had it easy. Muhammad Ali, Julio Cesar Chavez, all these great fighters, at one moment, had to go through something really tough. So I know it’s not going to be a tough fight, but it’s not impossible.
“I don’t really think about that; I just concentrate on what I’m doing,” Valdez said when told that Berchelt is eating like crazy after he made weight last Friday.
“I know he’s a big 130. But like I said before, I know it’s going to be a tough fight, but it’s not impossible, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to come out victorious,” said Valdez.
The size that Berchelt possesses should be a concern for Valdez, as we’re talking about a fighter that arguably should be competing at lightweight.
Valdez should still be fighting at featherweight, as he doesn’t have the size to steamroll his opposition like he’s been doing at 126. But with Berchelt, this is a fighter that should be fighting at 135 in the lightweight division, but he chooses to meltdown to compete at 130.
For all intents and purposes, Valdez will be taking on a fighter that is two divisions bigger than him tonight in Berchelt. That’s why Valdez must be concerned with Berchelt’s size.
Oscar can’t afford to fight in a wreckless manner against the much bigger Berhchelt if he wants to win.
It was an understandable move for Berchelt to be fighting at super featherweight in the past because it used to be a loaded division. But now that all the popular fighters are at 135, Berchelt is in a weight class that no longer has the same function as it once did for him.
Berchelt and his team will be ready for Valdez tonight, and you can expect the champion to respond well when to the different looks that Oscar gives him.
If Valdez chooses to box and move, Berchelt will adapt along with him and win a competitive 12 round decision. With that said, Berchelt will knock out Valdez if he brawls with him the way he’s been doing against most of his opposition lately.