By Ryan Maquiñana
Mexico has developed a plethora of professional boxing world champions since 1980, but only three Olympic medalists during that span.
One pugilist who had dreamt of adding to that sparse total was Oscar Valdez, who made his second trip to the Games and was a contender to reach the podium in the bantamweight division after a run that included gold at the 2008 Youth World Championships, bronze at the 2009 World Championships, and silver at last year’s Pan American Games.
Unfortunately, while his Olympic medal dreams were cut short in a ___, the silver lining came in the form of the Mexican press, who circled the wagons and threw their support behind Valdez, giving him the media exposure he needed before turning pro and signing a managerial contract with Frank Espinoza.
BoxingScene.com caught up with Valdez at his home in Hermosillo, Mexico, to talk about his move to the next level.
Note: The interview was conducted in Spanish, so I have translated it into English.
BoxingScene.com: Why did you decide to leave the amateurs?
Oscar Valdez: Because I’m already 21 years old, and I couldn’t wait another four years for the next Olympics. I’m ready for the pros. It was time.
BoxingScene.com: You have a lot of amateur experience. How do you feel it’s going to help you as a professional?
Oscar Valdez: I learned so much in the amateurs and gained a lot of great experience. I fought a lot of excellent fighters and a lot of different styles that will prepare me for the professional game.
BoxingScene.com: Abner Mares, a former Mexican Olympian, helped the team out before you left for London. Tell me about the type of mentor he’s been for you.
Oscar Valdez: Abner is a very good friend of mine now. He’s a great person inside and out of the ring. I’m so thankful he helped me with advice with my training for London.
BoxingScene.com: Abner is also a client of Frank Espinoza, who just signed with. How much did that factor in your decision?
Oscar Valdez: I knew about Frank before I met with Abner. I already had a lot of confidence in Frank to guide my career with everything he’s done with Mexican fighters.
I want to be remembered like a Israel Vazquez, like an Abner Mares. Mares is inspiring to me, coming out of the barrios to achieve what he has done. It helped that he had Abner already, so the three of us talked, and it was the right decision.
BoxingScene.com: Frank and his son Frank Jr. are based in Southern California. Will you be training here from now on?
Oscar Valdez: I have a great team here already in Mexico with my dad Oscar Sr. training me, so I’m going to prepare and train here for now. I was born in Sonora, so that’s where I’m from, but I’ll be training here in Hermosillo as well as in Mexico City.
BoxingScene.com: For the fans who haven’t seen you yet, what can they expect?
Oscar Valdez: I have a Mexican style. I’m a warrior that people like to see. I love to brawl. I love to fight, and when fans see me, they’ll love the type of effort I’ll bring to the ring.
BoxingScene.com: Which fighters did you watch growing up?
Oscar Valdez: I have so many. I have to start with Julio Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and now, Floyd Mayweather. Floyd’s a warrior and no one can beat him right now.
BoxingScene.com: When will you make your debut?
Oscar Valdez: I’ve been told that I’ll make my debut in October, so I’m getting ready for that. It will be at 126 pounds.
BoxingScene.com: AIBA has signed several amateurs to their new pro league, APB. Did they approach you as well?
Oscar Valdez: They wanted me to sign, but I didn’t want to do that. The amateur world is really corrupt right now. It’s real bad. We worked so hard all our lives to get to this moment in the Olympics. We make sacrifices, and just for these bad decisions, and it’s so bad that make people want to retire from boxing. It happens in the pros, too, but it was really bad in the amateurs.
BoxingScene.com: What are your goals for your pro career?
Oscar Valdez: I want to be the champion of the world, and I will work hard. Like I said, I want to be remembered as a great fighter, and I’ll do my best to get there.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.