Edwin Valero And The Albatross

14.12.07 - By Matthew Hurley: Edwin Valero has become something of a YouTube fascination to many American boxing fans. The power-punching World Boxing Association super featherweight champion has registered a professional record of 22-0 with 22 KOs – 19 of those coming in the first round. He helped prepare Erik Morales for his first bout with Manny Pacquiao and then worked as a sparring partner for Marco Antonio Barrera when the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ closed out his career against the ‘Pac Man’. In fact, after losing to Pacquiao he was asked who could beat the Filipino icon and he answered without hesitation “Valero!.

edwin valero The southpaw from Venezuela has since relocated to Japan and has continued to ply his craft outside the United States where potential big money bouts against the likes of Pacquiao lie. This career altering circumstance actually began a year and a half before the fighter turned professional. Valero suffered a severe head injury in a motorcycle accident, recovered and began a twelve bout string of first round knockouts – 3 of which occurred in the United States. Before his thirteenth bout a routine MRI revealed a ‘black spot’ on his brain. The fallout was immediate. The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) put Valero on immediate suspension which basically banned him from being licensed to fight anywhere in the US.

An undeterred Valero packed up his belongings and moved his family to Japan where he signed a contract with Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions. He turned his ferocity, and obvious frustration, on his opponents, eventually winning the title by an exciting 10th round TKO over Vincete Mosqueva. This Saturday the diminutive banger with the long hair, odd glasses and odder still taste in clothes defends his title against Zaid Zavaleta, 16-2-2 with 11 KOs at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico. The bout is being telecast on DirecTV, Dish Network and In Demand pay-per-view at the suggested price of $29.95.

But as Valero’s career continues the very real concern that his prospects for a big fight against the likes of Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez hangs in the balance as long as his suspension remains intact. That albatross could also wreak havoc on his psyche and his maturation as a fighter. Already, just 22 bouts into his career, there are hints coming out of his training camps that he is no longer willing to accept criticisms or carry on learning the finer points of the game in terms of defense and footwork. Because he continues to knockout opponents with, for the most part, relative ease, Valero is becoming a wild swinging fighter. His opposition has also begun to stagnate. There is a very real possibility that all the potential that resides in his small but powerful frame will be wasted.

Valero continues to pass all subsequent pre and post fight medical exams but the NYSAC suspension remains, so far, his greatest obstacle. The fighter, who admits to frustration over his situation, recently wondered aloud why he seems to be frozen out by a suspension that was handed down years ago when other fighters such as Joe Mesi and Evander Holyfield, both suspended by the NYSAC have found venues in the United States to fight.

“We are hoping that (the) problem gets resolved soon,” he told “I am able to fight everywhere else, why not in the US? I have passed the tests in every country I have fought. I am sure I would pass them in the US.”

If the suspension holds up there is a real possibility that Valero will return to the United States, most likely the Southern California area to live and train. He could then fight in Mexico. The idea of continuing to live and fight in Japan is one that he has admitted to being a “difficult” option and one he would rather not continue in the long run.

But as time goes on and his career continues to be haunted by the suspension, the fighter’s skills are beginning to falter just a bit. Where at one time he was a patient stalker who set up his power shots behind his jab, he has now become a head hunter who leaves himself open to counter punches. As the skill set of his opposition has leveled off there is the very real possibility that should he finally get licensed in the US and face off against a supremely talented fighter his punch won’t be able to make up for his regression as a fighter.

But all of that remains to be seen. He is still only 26 years old and is at or near his physical peak as an athlete. And with a bout on pay-per-view more people will get a chance to see him and boxing fans love a powerful slugger who can end a bout with just one punch. If you haven’t seen him fight yet and don’t plan on buying the pay-per-view there’s always YouTube.

Article posted on 15.12.2007

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