Undefeated junior lightweight star Oscar Valdez will hit the ring for the first time in 2020 and go about his business of chasing his 2nd world title, this time in the junior featherweight division. Valdez, 27-0 (21 KO’s), of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, is one of boxing’s most exciting fighters and on Tuesday, July 21, we will see him clock into Top Rank Boxing’s "bubble" in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Undefeated at 17-0, Valdez captured the WBO world featherweight title in the summer of 2016 and then went on to make 6 title defences. His championship run at 126-pounds included exciting wars against the Iikes of Scott Quigg, Genesis Servania and Miguel Marriaga.
However, after torturing himself to make the featherweight limit, he decided it was time to go 4-pounds north. Last November, Adam Lopez stepped in as a late replacement to give Valdez his first test at 130, and Lopez gave a very good account of himself before getting stopped. Lopez welcomed Valdez to the higher weight by depositing him on the canvas early in the bout before Valdez came back to wear down the rugged and game Lopez who earned a lot of fans, and good reviews, despite the loss.
Now, Valdez will face off against Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez, 29-6-1, (21 KO’s), himself a former world featherweight title challenger.
Velez was undefeated when he went up against unbeaten Evgeny Gradovich in 2014, in a shot at the IBF world featherweight title. Velez came away with a split decision draw in what has been his only world title shot. In the 13 bouts since his world title fight, Velez has faced some good competition in recording a 7-6 record. While Valdez can’t sleep on the experienced Velez, this is a good fight for him, in his 2nd outing in a new division, and should keep him busy while he aligns himself for a shot at the 130-pound world title.
In a recent interview, Top Rank boss Bob Arum, and his charge Valdez, made it clear that a world title shot is on the docket and they have one guy in mind.
“Oscar Valdez wants to fight WBC world champion Miguel Berchelt, and I know Miguel wants nothing more than to fight Oscar,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar knows Jayson Velez is a serious challenge that he cannot overlook. This is a great main event", said Arum.
Added Valdez, “I’m ready for the best of the division. I want to be a two-division world champion, and the only way to do that is to beat tough fighters like Jayson Velez, who has challenged for a world title and possesses a lot of experience. Also, I’m very thankful to be fighting during this critical time where the sport of boxing is getting attention again. We know there have been discussions about me challenging Miguel Berchelt for his WBC super featherweight world title, but Velez is first. I need to beat Velez first if I want to fight Berchelt, and I’m expecting a very tough fight", he said.
Valdez, as friendly outside of the ring as he is ferocious in it, also added, "I want to dedicate this fight to all of the nurses and doctors who are working hard on this pandemic and to my father, Top Rank, and my manager, Frank Espinoza. I can’t wait to return to the ring.”