Valdez stops Velez, Berlanga scores 14th consecutive first-round knockout

 Oscar Valdez was not interested in a distance fight. The former featherweight world champion, in his second fight as a junior lightweight, knocked out Jayson Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) with 37 seconds remaining in the 10th and final round Thursday evening at the MGM Grand Conference Center — Grand Ballroom.

Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) knocked down Velez in the fifth round and twice more in the 10th before the referee called it off. A former world title challenger, this was the first KO defeat of Velez’s career.

Valdez, the WBC No. 1 contender at 130 pounds, now has his sights set on countryman and longtime champion Miguel Berchelt.

“Miguel Berchelt is the fight I want. He has the WBC title at 130 pounds. I want the WBC title. Miguel and I would make for a great fight,” Valdez said. “Velez was everything I expected, a tough warrior who fought his heart out. I commend him for a great performance and a great fight.”

Berlanga does it again!!

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— Oops, he did it again. Super middleweight destroyer Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) scored his 14th consecutive first-round knockout, obliterating the usually durable Eric Moon (11-3, 6 KOs) in 62 seconds. A pair of overhand rights sent a dazed Moon to the canvas, and referee Kenny Bayless  had seen enough.

“It was another step-up fight for me. We prepared to go rounds, but I got him hurt and got him out of there,” Berlanga said. “I still have so much room to grow as a fighter. The power is there, but I will show everyone that I am a well-rounded fighter. The knockout streak is cool, but there is more to me than first-round knockouts.”

— The Isaac Dogboe comeback is in motion. The former WBO junior featherweight world champion, coming off back-to-back defeats to Emanuel Navarrete, dominated Chris Avalos via eighth-round TKO in a statement-making performance at featherweight. Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs) had not fought in more than a year, but he shook off the ring rust in short order, using a steady body attack to break down the two-time world title challenger.

“I was off for 14 months. This was a long time coming. I felt great with my new trainer, Barry Hunter. We’re only getting warmed up,” Dogboe said. “I wanted to show everyone that Isaac Dogboe never went away. I’m still here, and I am only getting better.”

— ESPY winner Kim Clavel (12-0, 2 KOs) was victorious in her ESPN debut, as she defeated the previously undefeated Natalie Gonzalez (6-1, 1 KO) by unanimous decision (80-72 3x) in a light flyweight bout. Clavel made a triumphant return to the ring, as she worked as a nurse in Montreal elder care facilities on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. Her contributions earned her the 2020 Pat Tillman Award for Service last month at the ESPYs.

“I knew it would be a hard fight because she’s a good fighter. She had a good amateur background,” Clavel said. “This was my first time here. I had some pressure, but with every round, I felt better and better in the ring with my coach. We won all the rounds. This is what we wanted.

“I would love to stay active and fight again before the end of 2020. I want to be the best in the light flyweight division.”

— Junior welterweight prospect Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) notched his second “Bubble” knockout in 19 days, icing Dennis Okoth (4-4-1, 2 KOs) with a single left cross in the second round. Rodriguez has won six straight by knockout since a technical draw in his third pro fight.

Photos: Top Rank Boxing/Mikey Williams

Oscar Valdez-Jayson Velez set for 7/21 in Vegas

The first run of Top Rank on ESPN shows inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” will conclude with a certified boxing action hero ready for another toe-to-toe tussle.

Former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, ranked No. 1 by the WBC and WBO at junior lightweight, will face former world title challenger Jayson Velez in the 10-round main event Tuesday, July 21, inside the MGM Grand Conference Center.

In the eight-round co-feature, super middleweight knockout sensation Edgar Berlanga (13-0, 13 KOs), who has knocked out 13 consecutive foes in the first round to begin his pro career, will look to extend the streak against Eric Moon (11-2, 6 KOs).

The card also will highlight the long-awaited return of Kim Clavel, the undefeated light flyweight who won the 2020 Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs for her work as an elder care nurse in Montreal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clavel, who is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), will fight fellow unbeaten Natalie Gonzalez in an eight-rounder.

Valdez-Velez, Berlanga-Moon, Clavel-Gonzalez, and undercard bouts will be televised live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

“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, and an incredible deep card, to close out our first round of shows inside the ‘Bubble.’”

Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) has won three fights since his March 2018 war of attrition against Scott Quigg, when his jaw was shattered in the fifth round of a 12-round championship bout. He took nearly one year off following the Quigg fight and moved up to the junior lightweight ranks last year. In his last outing, November 30 in Las Vegas, he survived a second-round knockdown to knock out Adam Lopez in the seventh.

Velez (29-6-1, 21 KOs), from Juncos, Puerto Rico, nearly won the IBF featherweight world title from Evgeny Gradovich in November 2014, but he was held to a controversial draw. He has fought from featherweight to lightweight in recent years and March 2018 knockout victory over former world champion Juan Manuel Lopez. Velez was one half of a Fight of the Year Contender in February, as he knocked down Jaime Arboleda in the 12th round, only to lose a split decision verdict by a single point on two of the judges’ scorecards. He has never been knocked out in a career that’s spanned nearly 13 years.

Valdez said, “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. 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.”

Said Velez, “Oscar Valdez is the greatest name I have ever had the opportunity to face. He is a young, undefeated fighter who was already a world champion and is hungry for another world title. At this stage of my career, I see each fight as if it were the last chance to achieve my dream. It’s now or never. We are going to make that dream come true.”

Berlanga, the brash Brooklynite nicknamed “The Chosen One,” took care of Cesar Nunez in 2:45 last December on the Terence Crawford-Egidijus Kavaliauskas undercard at Madison Square Garden. Moon has won four of his last five and has been knocked out only once since turning pro in July 2016. He has fought eight or more rounds five times.

Said Berlanga, “I’ve not really changed much about training because of the knockout streak. Training is all about improving as a boxer. I had a good amateur career, and that comes from being a good technical boxer. My focus in training has been to continue to improve my skills under my trainer, Andre Rozier, and Team Havoc.”

Clavel (11-0, 2 KOs) is coming off a career-best win last December, a decision over Esmeralda Gaona Sagahon that earned her the NABF light flyweight belt. The belt won’t be on the line against Gonzalez (6-0, 1 KO), a native of New Rochelle, New York, who was a two-time New York Golden Gloves champion as an amateur.

In undercard action:

Former junior featherweight world champion Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe (20-2, 14 KOs), on the comeback trail following back-to-back defeats to Emanuel Navarrete, will face two-time world title challenger Chris “The Hitman” Avalos (27-7, 20 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight battle.

Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (7-0-1, 7 KOs), who is coming off a highlight-reel first-round KO July 2 against Danny Murray, will face Kenyan veteran Dennis Okoth (4-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder at junior welterweight.

Italian heavyweight destroyer Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (7-0, 7 KOs) will aim to make it eight knockouts in as many fights against an opponent to be named in a six-rounder. Vianello, a 2016 Olympian, knocked out Don Haynesworth in one round June 9.

Raphael “Trouble” Igbokwe (14-2, 6 KOs), winner of two straight bouts, will fight Genc Pllana (8-1-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight bout originally scheduled for July 16.

Berchelt on Tank Davis: ‘Floyd Mayweather protects him too much’

His message is crystal clear. WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) wants all the big names. Whether it’s fellow Mexican action star Oscar Valdez, IBF champion Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, WBA champion Rene Alvarado, WBO champion and promotional stablemate Jamel Herring, or lightweight standouts Vasiliy Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis, Berchelt is itching to get back to action.

The Cancun native, who has made six defenses of his world title, recently spoke with Lupe Contreras. This is what he had to say.

On what he’s been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic

“We are still staying home and protecting ourselves from this bad virus that has knocked out a lot of people.

“We are taking care of ourselves by staying home. We are trying to stay active. We know that we have to take all the necessary precautions because we are high-performance athletes and we got to be careful.”

On training for a fight without knowing when he will fight again

“Well, it’s very difficult. Thankfully, we have the opportunity of having a stationary walker at home. I tried to run a little bit, and I do a little bit of shadowboxing, abs, push-ups. But it’s basically that. I believe it’s not the same as training in the gym, but we got to remember that we live off of staying in shape, and because of that, we must stay active.

“Nobody really knows when this pandemic will be over. But we have spoken to Top Rank President, Todd duBoef, and he has been giving us updates. We hope that this will be over soon. They have been thinking about all the alternatives, and one of them could be having fights without the public. I think that could be a big accomplishment because all fighters are standing by. A lot of us make a living by just boxing. I also believe that the TV networks are looking for content because they are running low on content right now. We hope for this to end soon so we can make the {Oscar Valdez} fight happen.”

On Oscar Valdez and his trainer, Eddy Reynoso

“Yes, of course I believe Oscar is a great fighter. I respect him a lot, but now we must face each other. I think Eddy Reynoso has come to add a lot of good things to his corner. He has also done a good job with Canelo Alvarez and Ryan Garcia. Now he is doing it with Oscar Valdez. It’s an excellent team, but on my side, I’m the champion and I also have a great trainer in Alfredo Caballero. It will be a great fight between Mexican fighters and Mexican trainers.”

On whether Valdez’s aggressive style will work against him

“No, I think they will have to come up with a good strategy. It’s worth noting that Oscar has already suffered an injury on his jaw. If I’m not mistaken, it happened in his fight against Scott Quigg. He broke his jaw. That’s why I believe they are going to try to fight a smart fight. He is also moving up in weight, and I don’t think he should be trading punches with me.”

On fighting Shakur Stevenson

“Of course! He is also a great fighter. Shakur Stevenson is a former Olympian and trains alongside Terence Crawford. I believe he is a fighter with a lot of ability and is one of the best fighters that Top Rank has right now, but like I mentioned, we are waiting for the fight with Oscar. I think he is still campaigning at 126. But when he gets to 130, I would like to face him. I think he is a great fighter, and I believe the fans want to see ‘El Alacrán’ Berchelt against the best.”

On his change once he became champion

“Well, it is a great responsibility. Everyone wants to be where you are. Now you become the target, and they are coming after you. Everyone wants to literally rip your head off. They want the crown. They want the belt. You realize that you have more responsibilities by having the belt, and you got to keep showing why you are the champion. That is why I’m still the champion after three years and six title defenses. We are going to keep walking this road. Losing my unbeaten record taught me a lot, and it didn’t only make me a better fighter, but it also made me a better person.”

On if he wants to unify the titles

“Of course! I would love to. JoJo Diaz was recently crowned as IBF champion. Also, Jamel Herring and Rene Alvarado. There are some great champions in the division, but right now, all I have on my mind is to face Oscar, be victorious on this seventh title defense, and after that, whoever comes, comes for Miguel Berchelt.”

On fighting Vasiliy Lomachenko

“Of course! Right now, he is one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I think he is only behind Canelo Alvarez. I would like to. Right now, my focus is getting through this situation of the pandemic. Then I will begin training and returning to all activities so I can face Oscar Valdez. After that, we can talk moving up to 135 to face someone like Vasiliy Lomachenko. He is a fighter that I have always wanted to face, or Teofimo Lopez.”

On fighting Gervonta Davis

“There are a lot of good fights to be made, but without a doubt, I would love to face Gervonta Davis. He is a very dangerous fighter and a lot of people would like to face him, but his promoter, Floyd Mayweather, protects him too much.”

Valdez on Berchelt: ‘That’s the one I want to fight’

Former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez’s super featherweight debut was a doozy. Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) got off the deck to stop late replacement Adam Lopez in seven rounds in a barnburner of a main event in front of a packed house at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Valdez was knocked down in the second round, only to come back to knock down Lopez (13-2) with a left hook in the seventh. A follow-up barrage caused referee Russell Mora to stop the bout with seven seconds remaining in the round.

As this was a WBC world title eliminator, Valdez is now in line to face champion Miguel Berchelt, who was seated ringside.

Lopez took the bout Friday afternoon after Valdez’s original opponent, Andres Gutierrez, missed weight by 11 pounds.

“I was very surprised. I take my hat off to Adam Lopez. He’s a great fighter, great warrior, just like his father {the late Hector Lopez} was,” Valdez said. I just got hit. This is boxing. I prepared myself for two, three months for Gutierrez, but that’s no excuse. This kid is a warrior.

“Berchelt is a true champion inside the ring and outside the ring. Fans love him. That’s the one I want to fight. He has that WBC belt, and he’s trying to take it back home.”

Photo: Top Rank/Mikey Williams

Andres Gutierrez 11 pounds overweight; Adam Lopez to battle Valdez

Andres Gutierrez was removed from Saturday’s main event against former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, as he weighed in at 141 pounds, 11 pounds above the contract weight.

Featherweight contender Adam Lopez (13-1, 6 KOs), from Glendale, Calif., stepped up to replace Gutierrez, and he will be in the opposite corner at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in a WBC super featherweight world title eliminator. Lopez was originally set to defend his Jr. NABF featherweight title against Luis Coria, but he jumped at the opportunity to face Valdez, who will be making his super featherweight debut.

Valdez-Lopez and Carl Frampton-Tyler McCreary will headline a super featherweight doubleheader live on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“I trained hard for three months making the sacrifices, and I am very upset with Andres Gutierrez,” Valdez said. “He was unprofessional. As soon as I heard 141 pounds, I still wanted to fight him, but my team and Bob Arum said Gutierrez was out. I give credit to Adam Lopez for stepping up. It will be a great fight tomorrow night.”

“It was surreal when I got the offer to fight Oscar,” Lopez said. “I‘ve known Oscar for a long time and I‘ve wanted this fight for a long time. I’m ready for it.

“Deep down, I’ll take anyone. Ultimately, I left it up to my trainer {Buddy McGirt}, and he gave the fight his blessing.

Valdez-Quigg set for March 10

 CARSON, CALIF. (January 17, 2018) — Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight world champion ÓSCAR VALDEZ, the man who swims with a fully-grown pet alligator, will begin the third year of his championship reign by defending his title against former World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight world champion and current No. 2 world-rated featherweight contender SCOTT QUIGG.  For Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs), of Nogales, Mexico, this will be his fourth title defense since winning it in 2016.  Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs), of Lancashire, England, will be making his U.S. debut.  The Valdez vs. Quigg world championship fight will take place Saturday, March 10, under the stars at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.  It will be televised live and exclusively at 10:30 p.m. EST on  ESPN and ESPN Deportes and stream live on the ESPN App.  Additional fights on the live  telecast will be announced shortly.

Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with Matchroom Boxing, tickets go on sale Today! Wednesday, January 17, at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT.  Priced at $206, $104, $53 and 27.50, including facility fees, they can be purchased online at AXS.com, by phone at (888) 9AXS-TIX, or by visiting the StubHub Center box office.

The all-action undercard will feature undefeated WBC Continental Americas super featherweight champion  Andy Vences (20-0, 12 KOs), of San Jose, Calif; top-three world-rated junior welterweight contender Alex Saucedo (26-0, 16 KOs), of Oklahoma City;  2016 U.S. Olympian and three-time U.S. Amateur Champion Mikaela Mayer (3-0, 2 KOs), of Los Angeles;  and 2012 Olympic silver medalist and middleweight contender Esquiva Falcäo (19-0, 13 KOs), of Vitoria, Brasil.

 “I know that my March 10 world title defense against Scott Quigg will be a fun one for all the boxing fans because our styles combine perfectly to make a real war,” said Valdez. “As usual, on March 10, I will leave it all in the ring at StubHub Center, to show everyone that I’m one of the best featherweights in the world”

“This is a fight that I’m really looking forward to.  It’s a great fight,” said Quigg.  “I have a lot of respect for Oscar and his team.  We’ve been in the gym together in the past, helping each other prepare for a fight.   They are good people.  I’ve been in training for four weeks already and now I’ve just linked up with Freddie Roach to begin the last eight  weeks of camp.  This is a great opportunity for me — making my U.S. debut on a great platform on ESPN —  and I’m confident on March 10 I’ll become World champion again.”

 Valdez, who represented México in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was the first Mexican fighter to qualify for two Olympic games.  He is considered one of the bright lights of the featherweight division and a new face for boxing’s next generation.  He will be making the fourth defense of the world title he won on July 23, 2016 via a second-round knockout of undefeated No. 2 rated Matías Rueda.  Rueda entered that fight having won his previous 10 bouts by stoppage.  In his first defense, which took place, on November 5, 2016, Valdez blasted out No. 1 contender Hiroshige Osawa via a seventh-round TKO.  On April 22, in his 2017 debut, his first pay-per-view event that featured him in the main event, Valdez went toe-to toe for 12 rounds with No. 1 contender Miguel Marriaga, winning a unanimous decision.  Marriaga, a three-time world title challenger, went into that fight having won 15 of his previous 19 bouts by way of knockout.  In his most recent fight, on September 22, he again went mano a mano in a 12-rounder that had the fans on their feet throughout the fight.  This time Valdez won a unanimous decision over Genesis Servania, the No. 4 world-rated contender.

Quigg, who has fought all but once in his native England, is trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach.  After capturing the WBA interim super bantamweight world title in 2012 and making one successful title defense that same year, he was elevated to WBA super bantamweight world champion in 2013.  Quigg successfully defended that world title six times, four of them by way of knockout during his three-year reign.  He lost the title via a split decision to International Boxing Federation (IBF) championCarl Frampton in a 2016 title unification bout.  Since that fight, Quigg has moved up to the featherweight division and won his past three fights, including a 12-round featherweight  title elimination bout against Simion Viorel.  Quigg is currently world-rated No. 2 by the IBF and No. 4 by the WBA.