Valdez stops Berchlet to claim WBC 130-pound title

Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt promised an all-Mexican clash for the ages. They delivered. Valdez knocked out Berchelt with a left hook at the end of the 10th round to win the WBC super featherweight world title from Berchelt, who was making his seventh title defense. 

The hook crumpled Berchelt, who fell face-first to the canvas, and referee Russell Mora immediately waved off the fight.

Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) was badly hurt and knocked down in the fourth, but steadied himself and continued to pressure Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) throughout the middle rounds. Valdez turned the tide once again in the ninth with a knockdown,  and with the 10th round in hand,  he lowered the boom.

Valdez said, “There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong. I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out. I have a message to everybody: Don’t’ let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.
 
“I want to take this belt home, and I’m happy for that. Any champion out there… I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight. Let’s do it. I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want.”

Flores Dominates Velez in Co-Feature

It’s time to crown Stockton’s King. Gabriel Flores Jr., the junior lightweight sensation from Stockton, California, made an emphatic statement, knocking out former world title challenger Jayson Velez in the sixth round. Flores (20-0, 7 KOs) knocked down Velez twice in the sixth, punctuating the victory with a left hook.

Flores (20-0, 7 KOs) became only the second man to stop Velez (29-8-1, 20 KOs), who was knocked out in 10 rounds by Oscar Valdez last July.


Flores said, “I could’ve done it earlier. I was playing with my food. {Trainer Gabriel Flores Sr.} told me I just gotta press it. Nothing was really going on those first five rounds, to be honest. I was just feeling him out. 

“I would love to get the winner of Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton. I’d love that. I’m going to keep on working, and my performances are going to get better and better.”

In undercard bouts:

Middleweight: Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KOs) TKO4 Artur Akavov (20-4, 9 KOs). Falcao, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist from Brazil, picked up the most significant win of his career with a one-sided drubbing of two-time middleweight world title challenger Akavov. After a rough opening round, Falcao was in command until Akavov’s corner stopped the fight following the fourth round. All three judges had Falcao ahead 39-37 at the time of the stoppage.

Jr. Welterweight: Elvis Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs) UD 8 Luis Alberto Veron (18-3-2, 9 KOs). Scores: 79-73 2x and 78-74. Rodriguez made his name as an explosive puncher, but showed his maturity and boxing acumen against Veron, a former WBO Latino belt-holder who has never been stopped as a pro. Rodriguez stunned Veron several times with right hooks, but the Argentine veteran was able to withstand the onslaught.

Rodriguez said, “This was my first scheduled eight-round fight, and I actually think I got a lot of good experience. Each fight, you acquire something different, and for this fight, I think the experience of going the rounds actually helped me out.
 
“It’s a great experience going the full eight rounds. It’s back to the gym to work on several things, specifically I know I needed to let my hands go a little more. When I did do that, I was able to hurt him. But in the end, I think it was a great experience. He’s a natural welterweight. He’s never been stopped, so I knew it would be a tough challenge, but you know I will go back to the gym and work harder to continue to grow in this sport.”

Welterweight: Xander Zayas (7-0, 1KO) UD 6 James Martin (6-2, 0 KOs). Scores: 60-54 3x. The 18-year-old Zayas went past the first round for the first time in nearly a year, outboxing the Philadelphia native Martin en route to the shutout victory.

Zayas said, “As a young fighter, you need these types of fights. I haven’t been out of the first round in nearly a year, so for me to get six round in, that was important.”

Middleweight: Javier Martinez (3-0, 1 KO) TKO 1 Billy Wagner (3-2, 1 KO), 1:51. Martinez, a southpaw from Milwaukee, unloaded on Wagner, stunning the Montana native early in the first round with a right hook. The one-way traffic was stopped shortly thereafter, and Martinez added a ‘1’ to the knockout column.

Jr. Welterweight: Omar Rosario (3-0, 1 KO) KO 2 Uriel Villanueva (1-1), 2:38. Former Puerto Rican amateur superstar Rosario notched the first stoppage win of his career, as two knockdowns in the second round prompted referee Robert Hoyle to stop the fight.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

Flores-Velez added to Berchelt-Valdez

Undefeated super featherweight standout Gabriel Flores Jr. will fight former world title challenger Jayson Velez in a 10-round tilt Saturday, Feb. 20, as the co-feature to the highly anticipated all-Mexican showdown between WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt and former featherweight kingpin Oscar Valdez.

Velez replaces former world champion Andrew Cancio, who suffered a back injury.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions, Berchelt-Valdez and Flores-Velez will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs), from Juncos, Puerto Rico, makes a quick comeback to the ESPN airwaves following his spirited effort against Valdez last July. He lost via 10th-round TKO after suffering a pair of knockdowns in that round. A 14-year pro, Velez has victories over former two-weight world champion Juan Manuel Lopez, former WBC super bantamweight world champion Victor Terrazas and then-unbeaten prospect Alberto Mercado.

Berchelt-Valdez, Flores-Cancio set for February 20

The 2021 Fight of the Year race has officially started, as Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez will face off in one of the most anticipated all-Mexican fistic showdowns in years.

Cancun’s Berchelt will defend his WBC super featherweight world title against Nogales native Valdez in a special Top Rank on ESPN telecast Saturday, February 20.

The 10-round super featherweight co-feature will see rising 20-year-old Gabriel Flores Jr. against former world champion Andrew “El Chango” Cancio.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions, Berchelt-Valdez and Flores-Cancio will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez are two proud Mexican warriors who will give boxing fans a memorable fight,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Top Rank promoted all three bouts between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, and I view Berchelt-Valdez as this generation’s Barrera-Morales.”

Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) has held the WBC super featherweight title since January 2017, when he knocked out Francisco Vargas in the 11th round. His last five title defenses have ended via the quick route, including a ninth-round TKO over Miguel Roman, a sixth-round TKO over Vargas in their May 2019 rematch, and a fourth-round knockout over former world champion Jason Sosa. He fought last June in a non-title bout and knocked out Eleazar Valenzuela in six one-sided rounds.

“This fight is the one that I dreamed of since we were both amateur fighters,” Berchelt said. “Valdez is a great fighter, and it will be a great fight. I am preparing with everything to win by knockout and leave no doubt that I am the best super featherweight in the world.”

Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) is a two-time Mexican Olympian who vacated the WBO featherweight world title last year after six title defenses, which included scintillating 12-round barnburners against the likes of Scott Quigg, Genesis Servania and Miguel Marriaga. He suffered a severely broken jaw against Quigg in March 2018, returned 11 months later, and has since won four consecutive bouts. Since moving up to 130 pounds, Valdez has scored stoppage wins over Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez.

Valdez said, “Whenever there are two Mexicans in the ring, it is a guaranteed war, and it will be an honor for me to bring a great war to my fans.”

Flores (19-0, 6 KOs), from Stockton, Calif., signed a professional contract with Top Rank at 16 years old and went 3-0 in 2020 as he graduated from prospect to contender. He started the year Feb. 22 on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury II undercard and dominated Matt Conway over eight rounds. Flores shined on a pair of occasions inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, winning decisions over Josec Ruiz and Ryan Kielczweski. Flores now steps up against Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), a fellow Californian who formerly held the WBA super featherweight world title. Cancio knocked out Alberto Machado in February 2019 to win the title and repeated the deed with another knockout over Machado that June. Rene Alvarado ended Cancio’s ascension with a seventh-round knockout in November 2019, and early last year, Cancio inked a promotional contract with Top Rank.

“My main goal is to win a world title,” Flores said. “Dominating a former world champion will put me in a great position to challenge for a title soon.”

Cancio said, “I’m very excited to return to battle on February 20 against Gabriel Flores Jr. I’m working hard in the gym, and I know that this fight is the first on my path to becoming a two-time world champion. I would like to thank my fans, who have been so incredibly supportive. I’ve heard you loud and clear and can’t wait to put on another great show for you.”