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Prospect Of The Year: Oscar Valdez

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By Derek Bonnett


The line between Prospect and Contender is often blurred. There is no clear cut formula equating rounds, bouts, performance, and quality of opposition that can be applied to a specified rubric to assess a budding fighter’s status. The move from prospect to contender status in essence is an arrival. Sometimes it is an anticipated one and under other circumstances it can be quite the party-crashing event. In 2014, the world of boxing witnessed the development of copious newcomers, each progressing in his own manner. Kosei Tanaka, Takuma Inoue, Artur Beterbiev, and Dmitry Khudryashov all started the year as top prospects in the sport or developed into one soon after. However, all four boxers scored significant victories over world ranked opposition, thus, shedding their prospect clothes and moving on into top ten contender status undeniably. As the pack thinned, names such as Joshua Parker, Felix Verdejo, and Oscar Valdez assumed leading roles as prominent prospects in the sport. The voting was difficult, but the SecondsOut.com staff has named Oscar Valdez as the 2014 Prospect of the Year.

 

Mexico’s unbeaten, two-time Olympian, Valdez had a lot to be happy for in 2014. In the two years since casting away his amateur tank-tap, Valdez has amassed a young record of 14-0 (13). This year alone, Valdez, 24, won six times, scoring five stoppages. Over his first three starts this year, Valdez demonstrated a versatile array of punching to the body and head. His quick hands packed considerable punch, but these outings were highlighted by the Mexican’s efficiency in throwing leather to dismiss Samuel Sanchez in three, Adrian Perez in four, and Noel Echevarria after six. Hardly taking a backward step, Valdez cruised through May.


The second half of 2014 saw Valdez still producing well-exposed victories, but over a steadily improved level of opposition. In July, Valdez took on the veteran experience of Juan Ruiz, who came in with fourteen losses, but faced such contenders as Antonio Escalante, Bernabe Concepcion, Vicente Escobedo, Victor Terrazas, Gary Russell Jr., and Arash Usmanee, always going the distance. Valdez found himself in a more physically mauling fight than he was used to and, as nice as it would have been to become the first man to stop Ruiz, the veteran’s octopus-like tactics insured the final bell would be sounded in this one. Even the sharp combinations of the rising prospect down the stretch could not take enough out of the durable Ruiz, who taught Valdez what it means to go the distance. Fighting off the ropes and in the trenches more than he ever had to previously, Valdez did not lose a round on each of three judges’ scorecards.

 

Valdez returned in November to take on tough veteran Alberto Garza, who was coming off back to back decision losses to Jose Pedraza and Billy Dib. Valdez was able to what neither of the more experienced fighters was able to as he forced a TKO in round seven. Garza provided a very game challenge, but unlike the Ruiz fight, Valdez was able to control the distance against his more experienced foe in order to maximize his punching distance to land power shots from the outside. In fact, Valdez fought primarily off the back foot in the latter rounds of the bout to bait Garza into coming forward, showing developed generalship in the ring. When the opportunity came, Valdez came forward for the knockout after sufficiently breaking down Garza without losing a round in the process.

 

The 2008 and 2012 Mexican Olympian capped off his 2014 Prospect of the Year efforts with a fifth round corner retirement of Jean Javier Sotelo. Valdez attacked his opponent to the body without prejudice and in his own summation had him looking for a way out of the fight. Afterward, the unbeaten prospect, who speaks English flawlessly, expressed his interest in one day meeting Vasyl Lomachenko, Nicholas Walters, and Evgeny Gradovich. Such match-ups seem a long way off at present, but over the next twelve months it is likely we will see Valdez join Tanaka, Inoue, Beterbiev, and Khudryashov as legitimate world title shot contenders. Perhaps then the idea of seeing Valdez in with one of the aforementioned champion won’t seem so far-fetched.

 

For further boxing discussion please contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook. Also, don’t forget to "LIKE" the SecondsOut.com page on Facebook.

 

SecondsOut 2014 Prospect Of The Year: Oscar Valdez

 

By Derek Bonnett: The line between Prospect and Contender is often blurred. There is no clear cut formula equating rounds, bouts, performance, and quality of opposition that can be applied to a specified rubric to assess a budding fighter’s status. The move from prospect to contender status in essence is an arrival. Sometimes it is an anticipated one and under other circumstances it can be quite the party-crashing event. In 2014, the world of boxing witnessed the development of copious newcomers, each progressing in his own manner. Kosei Tanaka, Takuma Inoue, Artur Beterbiev, and Dmitry Khudryashov all started the year as top prospects in the sport or developed into one soon after. However, all four boxers scored significant victories over world ranked opposition, thus, shedding their prospect clothes and moving on into top ten contender status undeniably. As the pack thinned, names such as Joshua Parker, Felix Verdejo, and Oscar Valdez assumed leading roles as prominent prospects in the sport. The voting was difficult, but the SecondsOut.com staff has named Oscar Valdez as the 2014 Prospect of the Year.

 

Mexico’s unbeaten, two-time Olympian, Valdez had a lot to be happy for in 2014. In the two years since casting away his amateur tank-tap, Valdez has amassed a young record of 14-0 (13). This year alone, Valdez, 24, won six times, scoring five stoppages. Over his first three starts this year, Valdez demonstrated a versatile array of punching to the body and head. His quick hands packed considerable punch, but these outings were highlighted by the Mexican’s efficiency in throwing leather to dismiss Samuel Sanchez in three, Adrian Perez in four, and Noel Echevarria after six. Hardly taking a backward step, Valdez cruised through May.

 

The second half of 2014 saw Valdez still producing well-exposed victories, but over a steadily improved level of opposition. In July, Valdez took on the veteran experience of Juan Ruiz, who came in with fourteen losses, but faced such contenders as Antonio Escalante, Bernabe Concepcion, Vicente Escobedo, Victor Terrazas, Gary Russell Jr., and Arash Usmanee, always going the distance. Valdez found himself in a more physically mauling fight than he was used to and, as nice as it would have been to become the first man to stop Ruiz, the veteran’s octopus-like tactics insured the final bell would be sounded in this one. Even the sharp combinations of the rising prospect down the stretch could not take enough out of the durable Ruiz, who taught Valdez what it means to go the distance. Fighting off the ropes and in the trenches more than he ever had to previously, Valdez did not lose a round on each of three judges’ scorecards.

 

Valdez returned in November to take on tough veteran Alberto Garza, who was coming off back to back decision losses to Jose Pedraza and Billy Dib. Valdez was able to what neither of the more experienced fighters was able to as he forced a TKO in round seven. Garza provided a very game challenge, but unlike the Ruiz fight, Valdez was able to control the distance against his more experienced foe in order to maximize his punching distance to land power shots from the outside. In fact, Valdez fought primarily off the back foot in the latter rounds of the bout to bait Garza into coming forward, showing developed generalship in the ring. When the opportunity came, Valdez came forward for the knockout after sufficiently breaking down Garza without losing a round in the process.

 

The 2008 and 2012 Mexican Olympian capped off his 2014 Prospect of the Year efforts with a fifth round corner retirement of Jean Javier Sotelo. Valdez attacked his opponent to the body without prejudice and in his own summation had him looking for a way out of the fight. Afterward, the unbeaten prospect, who speaks English flawlessly, expressed his interest in one day meeting Vasyl Lomachenko, Nicholas Walters, and Evgeny Gradovich. Such match-ups seem a long way off at present, but over the next twelve months it is likely we will see Valdez join Tanaka, Inoue, Beterbiev, and Khudryashov as legitimate world title shot contenders. Perhaps then the idea of seeing Valdez in with one of the aforementioned champion won’t seem so far-fetched.

 

For further boxing discussion please contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook. Also, don’t forget to "LIKE" the SecondsOut.com page on Facebook.



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