Oscar Valdez defends his title against Jason Sanchez
By Bill Tibbs
One of boxing’s most exciting warriors, Top Rank’s Oscar Valdez, will make the 6th defense of the WBO featherweight championship against Jason Sanchez from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada, on June 8.
The bout will be the main event of a card, live on ESPN, that could be the teaser to a huge Valdez-Carl Frampton bout as Frampton recently signed a promotion deal with Top Rank with the idea to presumably match up against Valdez at some point.
Valdez is coming in off a February victory where he kept his title via TKO 7 over Italian Carmine Tommasone.
Valdez has been one of boxing’s most exciting warriors since winning the vacant WBO featherweight title back in 2016. Valdez’s most exciting victory came at a cost as he broke his jaw in a war with England’s Scott Quigg last spring. The injury kept him out of the ring for a while and prompted his manager Frank Espinoza to make a trainer change moving forward to look at sharpening up Valdez’s defense.
Now working with (Saul Alvarez trainer) Eddie Reynoso, Valdez is looking to add some shelf life to a career that has seen him in a lot of wars, this after a long and busy amateur career that saw him qualify for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the first time as a 17-year old.
With 3 years and 5 title defenses in the bank as a champion, Valdez knows that other fighters are always targeting him. He also knows he can’t take anyone lightly if the wants to remain undefeated and look to land the marquee bouts, like a Frampton gig or possible fights with other division champions like the IBF’s Josh Warrington, WBC champion Gary Russell Jr., or WBA champ Leo Santa Cruz. While many critics have long blamed rival promoters of not being willing to do business with one another, Top Rank Boxing has a long history of working with other promoters. So, a champion like Valdez can work towards possible unification bouts that might very well happen.
While Sanchez doesn’t yet have the name recognition of the division’s other champions, he is unbeaten at 14-0 with seven knockouts, and this is his first world title shot, so he will be as ready as any fighter can be with the chance to change his whole career in one night.
In recent interviews both fighters seemed more than ready to get in the ring and make the most of their headline slot on ESPN.
“I am excited to get back in the ring for my 6th title defense”, said Valdez. “I know I have a big target on my back because I am the champion but nobody is going to take my title away from me”, he said. “This will be my 2nd fight with trainer Eddie Reynoso”, continued Valdez. “During my training with Eddie I have felt the best I have ever felt. I felt great in my first fight with Eddie in my corner. I know that I will look even better this time out”, he said. “The fans in Reno, and watching on ESPN and ESPN Deportes can expect a great showing from me”, he said.
And, while Sanchez, who won the WBO youth featherweight title in 2018, knows he is in for a very tough assignment in his first world title shot, he is excited for the opportunity of a lifetime, entering the ring with added motivation in looking to honor his brother.
“I am truly honored to have an opportunity like this”, he said. “Coming from Albuquerque, I had to work extra hard to get noticed and get to where I am today”, he said. “I will be bringing this belt home to my family, my supporters and most of all to my late, great brother Alan”, he said. “I believe he guided me down this road and I believe that this fight in only the beginning”, he said.
* Fans in Reno will also get to see red-hot, lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. who brings his 13-0 record to take on 18-fight veteran Salvador Bricenco.