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Valdez Does Dallas

(L-R) Oscar Valdez & Gil Garcia - Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank
(L-R) Oscar Valdez & Gil Garcia - Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank

The featured fight of the night from the American Airlines in Center in Dallas, Texas is the match-up between Mikey Garcia and Juan Manuel Lopez (HBO 10:45 p.m., ET). Before that bout takes place, the untelevised portion of the card features one of Top Rank’s prized prospects, two-time Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez, who, one day - if all goes according to plan - could headline on cards like this.

But for now, he’s just a fledgling prizefighter learning his craft. Quite frankly, he’s just happy to be here.
“It feels good. I think I’m blessed right now. I’m getting opportunities to fight on great cards like this,” Valdez told Maxboxing on Thursday.

At this juncture last year, he was preparing for the 2012 Olympics in London. After falling just a bit short of qualifying for the medal rounds, Valdez soon inked a managerial pact with Frank Espinoza as well as a promotional deal with Top Rank. Not long after, he made his pro debut and hasn’t looked back since. It’s been a whirlwind for the 22-year-old.
“That’s what I was thinking last night. I haven’t really gotten rest, just going through it. I haven’t really gotten rest, just going at it. I want to follow my dreams to become a world champion and if we want to do that, I gotta keep going. Can’t take too much rest,” said Valdez, who is 4-0 with four knockouts. This will be his third outing in 2013. His most recent outing took place on May 11th, a first round stoppage of Rocco Espinoza in Laredo, Texas.
“We want to keep him as active as possible,” said his manager, Espinoza, best known for handling the likes of Israel Vazquez and Martin Castillo in the past and currently, guiding WBC featherweight titlist Abner Mares. “We’re not going to rush him because he’s just 22 years old but we also know what we have here in Oscar, a guy who is extremely talented and a kid that wants to go places. But he’s been everything as advertised.”
Espinoza’s view is shared by Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman, who says he’s “very impressed. We’re going to know a little more about him against Gil Garcia, who, on paper, is his toughest fight to date. Garcia has been stopped in one round by [Jesse] Magdaleno but he’s gone the distance with Jose Pedraza and [Lou] DiBella’s Polish kid [Ryan Kielczweski], had a draw with Gabino Saenz. So he’s facing a very, very competent opponent and listen; if Oscar stops a guy like this, it’s to his credit.
“But as far as his development, Top Rank is very impressed with it and we’re expecting even better things next year.”
At this stage, Valdez continues to make the adjustment to the pro game - which includes getting paid (well, at least over-the-table instead of under it).
“Well, it’s different from the amateurs\; it’s way different” said Valdez with a laugh. “I think it’s much better. I got more happy than I was in the amateurs. I feel better in the ring. I feel fast. I’m stronger and every time I go in, I get a paycheck. It’s a good experience for me, a new experience for me too.”
Valdez is a puncher and the smaller gloves suit him perfectly. The amateur scoring system - predicated on quantity of punches more than quality - hindered his effectiveness.
“I feel like I’m meant for the pros. I would hit harder than my rivals but sometimes it wouldn’t matter because they would throw more punches than me,” he lamented. Espinoza, who has never paid as much to obtain the services of a young fighter as he did with Valdez, was undaunted by this. “I knew his style would translate to the next level. You could just sense that and early on, that seems to be the case. He has great offensive tools and is a natural puncher.”
For now, Valdez is an understudy to the likes of Garcia and Lopez (who went through the same process years ago). HBO is scheduled to air clips of his bout sometime during this telecast but this stage and performing in major league venues as part of large promotions doesn’t faze Valdez.
“I think I’m used to them. I’m used to big arenas, being in big places,” he says. “I’ve been around big crowds. I went to two Olympics, gone to the Pan-American Games. I’ve gone through a lot of them, amateur experiences that are kinda the same. The size of the arenas, that doesn’t faze me.”
So what has been Valdez’s biggest purchase thus far\ with his professional signing bonus and his fight purses?
“I got me a house for me and my dad,” he says proudly. “That’s like the biggest one and I just got me a truck. But I gotta save a lot of money; I don’t want to be spending a lot of money on a lot of things.”
The home is in Hermosillo, Mexico.
“That was a good investment,” says Valdez.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Mikey Garcia lost his WBO featherweight title at the scales as he weighed in at 128 pounds (two pounds over the featherweight limit) and now only Lopez can win this belt.
According to promoter Bob Arum, a “six-figure” sum was paid to “JuanMa” for his troubles. Daryl Hudson, Garcia’s strength-and-conditioning coach, said Garcia’s body simply wasn’t going to go any lower than 128 pounds and it wouldn’t have been safe to cut any more weight.
It’s clear that Garcia should move up (which had been openly discussed prior to this event) and again, you have to wonder if more boxers would be forced to do so if weigh-ins went back to the morning off the fights. But going back to this format might be even more dangerous because let’s be realistic; fighters and their camps would still attempt to fight at unnaturally small weight classes believing it’s a physical advantage.
I’m an unabashed fan of Carlos Acevedo’s work and this latest piece on is another example why (starting with his opening line on Yuriorkis Gamboa):
Say it ain’t so! Are Floyd and Miss Jackson done? I thought those two were going to make it.
Here’s the latest edition of “The Next Round”:’t you much rather see Bernard Hopkins face Adonis Stevenson anyway?...Junior lightweight Alejandro Perez has signed a deal with Top Rank and he will fight at Hollywood Park on a UniMas broadcast on July 13th...So was Riddick Bowe’s foray into Muay Thai about as successful as his stint in the Marines?...I want to see much more of light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev That guy is a Russian wrecking ball...

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