Once-vanishing Edwin Valero battles for validation

By Mark Pickering: Edwin Valero weighed in at 134.5 lbs. today for Saturday night’s clash for the vacant WBC lightweight title. Antonio Pitalua weighed in at 135 lbs.

All it takes is one instalment of Edwin Valero’s untapped talents and your hooked.

Yet the South American firecracker is still tap-dancing on the brink of anonymity..

Valero, 27, was banished from boxing in his adopted home of America five years ago.

The Venezuelan failed an MRI scan in 2004 ahead of a would-be premiere on HBO’s Boxing After Dark series in New York. The scan picked up brain irregularities sustained in a severe motorcycle accident before his pro career launched in 2001. Valero, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, fractured his skull and had to have surgery to remove a blood clot.

While his career in the US was on hold he promptly returned to action, popping up in Europe, Asia and South America. In 2005 alone Valero fought in Japan, France, Panama, Argentina and his native Venezuela.

The rising southpaw picked up the WBA superfeatherweight title with a tenth-round knockout win over Panamanian Vicente Mosquera and made three defences of his title in Japan after signing a deal with fabled Japanese promoter Mr Honda.

Shortly thereafter, with opposition sparse in Asia, the well-travelled 130-pounder made the anticipated jump to lightweight and, having been cleared to box in Texas in March, 2008, ventured to Las Vegas to workout with former USA Olympic boxing coach Kenny Adams.

And now, with eight years in the fight game and on the verge on his kickstarting his career in the US, Valero’s talents can finally come to the fore.

He remains undefeated and most notably holds a 100% knockout record having put all 24 of his opponents to the sword.

Hailing from the small mountain village of Bolero Alto the knockout artist is every bit the force his resume suggests.

In his first 18 fights Valero boxed as many rounds, stopping every opponent in the very first round.

From a well-sculpted lean body the Venezuelan can generate tremendous power, firing off lightning-quick combos with destruction in mind. The mullet-sporting lightweight is built for ruthless precision.

While Valero has endeared himself to crowds with sprightly performances the world around his exposure has been cultivated largely by the visible wonders of YouTube and secured him a rich following amongst the sports die-hard fans.

Now, having risen from boxing’s backwaters to take centre stage in the main event of the four-bout Golden Boy Promotions card this Saturday the heavy-handed headliner is craving the moment.

“I feel very fortunate to be on this card and I want the whole public to get what they're paying for and give them a great, great fight,” said Valero.

“I want to thank the people at Golden Boy also for putting this card together. I'm just very happy and very fortunate that we're, you know, being able to be on the card.”

Standing between Valero and the vacant WBC lightweight championship is hard-hitting Colombian Antonio Pitalua. The 39-year-old is coming off a sixth-round TKO victory over former world champion Armanda Santa Cruz.

Pitalua, who fights out of Mexico City, is a seventeen-year veteran of the sport and has knockout power having stopped 40 of 46 opponents.

“I know Antonio Pitalua, I saw him in his last fight in Monterey, Mexico against Jose Armando Santa Cruz and I can tell you that he's a very aggressive, very strong fighter. He's a warrior with a lot of will to win.

”You can tell he can punch; he has a pretty heavy punch. But unfortunately I can't help make his dreams come true, I'm not going to allow it.”

The former junior lightweight champion was also keen to refute talk that he’s looking past Pitalua.

“I know what I can do, and I know what Pitalua brings. And he's a fighter that on the night of the fight he's going to roll; he's going to fall. He's too slow for me. I'm too fast, I'm too strong for him, and I want to fight the best. He's a good fighter, but I'm up for bigger and better things.

And as far as lingering doubts over his physical condition and whether he should be cleared to fight Valero remains defiant.
“I've been to doctors all over the world. I've been to Argentina, I've been to Panama, I've been to Venezuela and I have seen all the best doctors in America.

“In December I was in the Philippines and a doctor - the President actually -as a gift gave me an exam and they cleared me as well out there. So I want to repeat that I'm in no more danger than any other fighter, to suffer any more injuries or anything because of what I have.”

“Now I'm here in Los Angeles with "The Professor" Robert Alcazar and I feel very, very happy. We've clicked phenomenally and it's been a great click. We both think alike, we have many same ideas and I think together we can do a lot of good things in boxing.”

Tune in Saturday and you’re onto a good thing. Just don’t blink.

Article posted on 03.04.2009

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