Valdez left Berchelt motionless in the ring after his 10th round stoppage on Saturday night
By Brent Brookhouse
Coming into his fight with Miguel Berchelt, Oscar Valdez said he believed he would emerge as the winner in their battle for the WBC junior lightweight championship because Berchelt hadn’t been through the same level of adversity in his professional career. In the ring, it would prove that Valdez’s skill was even more important than those intangibles as he outboxed Berchelt from the opening bell before scoring an instant Knockout of the Year contender.
With the fight expected to be a war between the two Mexican sluggers, Berchelt (37-2, 33 KO) entered the ring as a considerable favorite, having rattled off win after win and establishing himself as a budding star. Valdez (29-0, 23 KO) had vacated his WBO featherweight title to step up in weight and try to become a two-division champion, something he would accomplish on the strength of speed, crafty defense and a thudding left hook.
Those tools really began to show in Round 4, when the hooks began to take Berchelt’s legs. Valdez remained patient, continuing to pick spots and thud away as openings were presented. Eventually, Valdez landed another left hook that sent Berchelt stumbling into the ropes, initiating a standing eight count for the technical knockdown.
Berchelt slowly recovered and battled his way back into the fight over the fifth and sixth round, forcing the kind of war most observers expected before the fighters set foot in the ring in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Valdez never stopped firing back, working his jab and then cracking with the left hook. But it was a heavy uppercut in Round 9 that put Berchelt back on the canvas. He was able to rise and battle through the rest of the round, but was warned by the referee between rounds that he would not allow him to take excess punishment.
It wasn’t the accumulation of shots that would lead to the end of the fight, however, as Valdez slipped a series of Berchelt shots before unleashing a gigantic left hook that sent Berchelt crashing to the canvas face-first.
This led to several scary minutes as Berchelt was not moving while being attended to by physicians, but he eventually was moved to a sitting position before eventually being stretchered out of the ring and taken to a local trauma center as a precautionary measure.
The win was the biggest of Valdez’s career and sets him up for bigger and better fights — and paydays. Following the fight, Valdez hadn’t forgotten those who doubted him coming into the bout.
“I said it before. There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong,” Valdez said. “I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Miguel Berchelt was going to knock me out. I’ve got a message for everybody. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can not do.”