When Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez clash in the ring this Saturday night, a fire-fight will at some point pop off, and this boxing podcaster is willing to put money on that.
(Courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)
I’m calling for a fight of the year, but these two guys will make their Mexican heritage be known for any casuals that tune in on ESPN.
It’s not just going to be a brawl though both men do bring other skills to the table, but it won’t take much time for them to lock horns and give fight fans something to talk about.
The co-feature is a good matchup for unbeaten prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. taking on the always game-vet in Jayson Velez. Let’s hope this matchup is a springboard for the division filled with quality fighters that should be able to fight one another, giving the depth of Top Rank at 130.
2012 Olympian Oscar Valdez turned professional following the games later that same year. Valdez’s first big moment in his young career at the time came against Evgeny Gradovich in the spring of 2016. Valdez secured the victory, got another over Carlos Rueda, and then got his first shot at a WBO featherweight strap on HBO versus Hiroshige Osawa. Valdez passed that test with flying colors as Top Rank, and the network began touting Oscar as the next big Mexican attraction in the lighter weight classes. At the time, Top Rank’s Bob Arum wasn’t able to secure the resources through HBO; we know why now resulting in Valdez’s fight with Miguel Marriaga to be placed on PPV instead of normal HBO.
Although Oscar clearly won the fight, Marriaga turned up the heat and gave Valdez all he could handle. The theme of being easy to hit and falling into a brawling pattern with opponents continued in his next outing versus Genesis Servania. Valdez once again came away victorious but kissed the canvas unexpectedly. All hell broke loose in his next fight facing former 122-pound champion Scott Quigg in the spring of 2018. A broken jaw and a bunch of punishment taken by Valdez accumulated into many media members and fans pressing the brakes on how high of a ceiling Oscar had on the top level. In November of 2019, Valdez moved up to 130 fighting Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez, not looking particularly great in either bout. The move up in weight was a must, according to Valdez and his team thought it would help him instead of the drain down to the featherweight.
Miguel Berchelt fights with an entertaining brand of skill and combination punching, which should match up well stylistically with Oscar Valdez. A little over 3 years ago, Berchelt got his big moment in a fun-action fight defeating Francisco Vargas. Berchelt followed that victory in style by beating Takashi Miura in a 12-round 130-pound WBO fight. Since then, Berchelt has been stuck in neutral, looking to raise his profile and mix it up with the other champs at junior lightweight. The only real opponent of note was the Vargas rematch which, at the end of the day, if we’re honest, probably didn’t need to occur because Francisco was too far beyond his prime. That said, per usual, Vargas did come to fight and made it a fun watch while it lasted. An impressive record of 37-1 with 33 KO’s is misleading a tad bit considering Berchelt has yet to knock off a top-tier boxer in his prime.
Berchelt loves to mix it up, as does Valdez, and as previously mentioned, both have more skill than given credit. The difference is Berchelt shows signs of being a more polished brawler on the inside or at close range. Whereas Valdez seems to be limited to either come forward and get hit in exchanges too much, or he uses some skill on the outside, but can he sustain that strategy for a whole fight? Both men are looking to prove folks wrong, with the winner in a great position to challenge the likes of Shakur Stevenson, the winner of Jamel Herring vs. Carl Frampton, along with a huge fight with Gervonta Davis.
This hack-of-a-scribe is torn between what is really real as far as skill and results considering each boxer’s opposition. Valdez has faced the fresher fighters, and Berchelt has the wins over better names but clearly faded, making their unbeaten streaks harder to decipher. Size surely will play a factor not just in reach but in power and strength, something that favors Berchelt. Berchelt holds a 71 ½ inch to 66 reach over Valdez but will it matter if Oscar can carve out a living in the trenches? Both love to engage in back and forth wars, but Valdez did it at a lower weight class and seemed to be affected over and over.
Oscar will attack the body with both hands, especially the left hook and will likely look to reset after landing something of note. Valdez does have experience and is capable of circling/pivoting on the outside in an effort of not falling into exchanges. If Valdez can find his way inside and land meaningful punches with an existing plan, he will pull this minor upset off. Berchelt will be the one that lands the hardest punch enough, so it changes the fight leading to Miguel inching it out on the scorecards.
My Official Prediction is Miguel Berchelt by Split-Decision.
Side Note: Also, Adrien Broner returns in a tune-up but keep an eye on the undercard bouts, Otto Wallin vs. Dominic Breazeale and Robert Easter Jr. vs. Ryan Martin, as part of the Showtime Tripleheader on Saturday that starts an hour earlier than the ESPN card.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio