Valdez vs. Wilson Actually Matters Now

By Dan Ambrose - 03/26/2024 - Comments

The Oscar Valdez vs. Liam Wilson clash this Friday now actually means something. The two super featherweights were just fighting it out for the interim WBO 130-lb title at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Now, the WBO interim belt could become the full title if the current champion, Emanuel Navarrete, defeats Denys Berinchyk to win the vacant WBO lightweight belt in May and decides to keep that strap.

Navarrete: The Great Belt Abandonment

It’s a given that Navarrete will keep that belt rather than relinquish it to return to super featherweight, where the paydays are smaller.

Navarrete decided that staying in one weight class was boring and career-stalling, so he’s moving up to broaden his horizons at 135, where the real money is at.

Here’s the thing: If Navarrete loses his bid to capture the vacant WBO lightweight crown, he’ll continue to hold onto his 130-lb belt. This means that the interim title that the Valdez-Wilson winner will capture will remain a trinket and not be transmuted into the real thing.

Navarrete is expected to defeat Berinchyk without any problems, so there’s not much chance he’ll return to 130 to reclaim his WBO title and defend it against the Valdez vs. Wilson winner.

Arum’s Spin Machine

“This not only promises to be a sensational fight, but with the WBO Interim title on the line, the winner will have tremendous opportunities in a loaded weight class,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.

Valdez and Wilson were likely well aware that Navarrete would be giving up his WBO 130-lb title, so they targeted it.

The Aussie, Wilson (13-2, 7 KOs) has won his last two fights against low-level opposition since being knocked out in the ninth round by Navarrete last year.

Valdez (31-2, 23 KOs), a former two-division world champion who has seen better days, is coming off a one-sided 12-round unanimous decision loss to Navarrete last August. In 2022, Valdez lost to Shakur Stevenson by a 12-round decision. His last win came against Adam Lopez in 2023.

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