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Valdez Makes the Rounds

(Photo © K9 Photos)
(Photo © K9 Photos)


In the last month or so leading up to his fight this weekend at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, young featherweight prospect Oscar Valdez has been making the rounds in seemingly all the gyms around Southern California, looking for a few good rounds. From the glamorous Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood to the blue-collar setting of the Maywood Boxing Club, Valdez has gotten quality work in before this Saturday night’s bout against Joe Morales.
 
“I went to Freddie Roach’s a couple of times, sparred different types of guys and I don’t remember a lot of their names but I know they were good. They were giving good fights in the ring,” said Valdez, whose pro mark stands at 6-0 (5).

He’s at the stage of his career where the experiences sparring seasoned veterans trump his real fights.
 
“Yeah,” he agreed, “it’s different from the amateurs. In the amateurs, I would get the type of sparring where I would have to chase them a lot and it’s an amateur style. This type of sparring is more professional.” But it’s just that, sparring, meaning you’re not necessarily trying to win. “It’s about helping each other out and I guess both fighters learn from sparring. You learn different types of styles and no one wins right there. It’s whoever wins in the ring in a real fight that counts,” he stated.
 
On more than one occasion, his manager, Frank Espinoza has chauffeured his fighter to the gym.
 
“Hey, we’re a one-stop shop here; we do it all. I’ve taken him everywhere he’s needed to go,” said Espinoza with a laugh, explaining that nurturing a young fighter is a team effort. “We have a great conditioning coach in Luis Garcia that also spends a great deal of time with him, his trainer, Clemente Medina that also takes him to all the gyms. We’re always moving around looking for the best sparring. We’ve been at Wild Card; we’ve been at Maywood, so we’ve put in the work but we know what we have here.”
 
Espinoza is no stranger to managing world-class talent. In the past, he’s had standouts like Israel Vazquez, Martin Castillo and currently manages the likes of Abner Mares, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Antonio Orozco. However, Valdez just might have the highest ceiling of them all. He’s effusive in praising his client.
 
“Oscar Valdez is taking boxing by storm. He was a two-time Olympian; now he’s an undefeated pro. His speed, his precise combinations and his overall skill are things that just jump out at you,” said Espinoza. “I think the media and the fans are figuring out early just how good Oscar can be and I think he’s something special. I really do. I know it’s early and I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I think Oscar has an unlimited amount of potential. I think fans should come out early on Saturday to see him.”
 
Espinoza added, “It’s all a process. He’s 6-0 but there’s something to work with. But the talent is there. He’s just got to use his jab a little more, a bit more side-to-side movement, things like that. The power and speed are there. He’s just a special kid. If we can tweak some little things, we’ve got a superstar here.”
 
On Friday morning in Maywood while wrapping Valdez’s hands, Medina said, “Oscar Valdez is a very good fighter. He’s a smart kid, aggressive. He has a lot of experience; he’s a two-time Mexican Olympian. He’s fought everybody like Russians, Americans, Cubans - good people - but now he’s professional and I think he’s a future world champion.”
 
Valdez is just 22 years old, so there’s still a long way to go. He’s still only at the six-round level and Top Rank - which signed him last year - isn’t known for rushing its prospects.
 
“I think I’m doing good. This is what I’m training for. This is what I do every day to look good inside the ring and give it my best,” said the young man whose passion for the sport and craft is evident. “So if I want to look good inside the ring, I’ve got to do good in the gym. So I feel I’ve been doing really good in the gym and it’s been showing in the fights,” Valdez told Maxboxing before he went several rounds with Petey Duran in Maywood.
 
Even for a fighter with just six fights under his belt, Valdez, because of his amateur pedigree and natural talent, is an advanced fighter, meaning sparring partners have to be of a certain ilk. Medina explained, “My job is to look for the best sparring for Oscar because he’s got so much experience. I don’t put him in with little kids. So many people call me, ‘I want to spar with Oscar.’ I say no because I need a certain level because he can’t get better that way.”
 
Valdez has moved around with the likes of Mares, Leo Santa Cruz, Will Tomlinson, Alejandro Perez and while he was back in Mexico, Orlando Salido. He’s the type of young boxer who can hold his own with anyone during these sessions but they’ve also shown him how far he still has to go in this game.
 
“Yeah, I get excited going in the ring with great fighters like that because sometimes I do good; sometimes I do bad but it helps me notice what kind of levels I’m at. I go in the ring and do good work with them. It makes me feel I can also become a world champion like they are.”
 
ESPINOZA BOXING CLUB
 
Espinoza added to his impressive stable of boxers by adding former bantamweight beltholder Joseph Agbeko.
 
“We have Agbeko,” confirmed Espinoza on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re going to be announcing something really good in a little while after we sit down. We’ve got good things for him.”
 
TNR
 
Here’s episode 450 of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
FALL FLURRIES
 
 
Bob Arum says a Rigondeaux fight on HBO will take place sometime in December...The referee for the bout between Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez is Robert Byrd. The three officials are Robert Hoyle, Patricia Morse-Jarman and Glenn Feldman...It’ll be interesting to see how this lawsuit between All Star Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions over Saul Alvarez plays out. All Star Boxing is now free to sue over punitive damages...Glen Tapia takes on Elco Garcia as the headliner on this week’s edition of “Solo Boxeo” on UniMas...Also on this card this weekend at the StubHub Center (first bell is 3:45 p.m.) is Matt Korobov, Gabino Saenz, Diego Magdaleno, Karim Mayfield, Jose Felix and Jose Ramirez...We’ll find out this weekend just how real Zach Mettenberger’s improvement is when LSU plays Georgia between the hedges...So just what is the mystery weight for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr?...The Bucs are hopeless with Greg Schiano in charge...I can’t lie; I like what I’m seeing out of Terrelle Pryor as the Raiders QB...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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