By Keith Idec
Genesis Servania is unknown among American boxing fans.
The Filipino featherweight contender is undefeated, yet doesn’t have a noteworthy win on his record and has fought at the 126-pound limit just once. Oscar Valdez isn’t thinking about any of that as he prepares to face Servania on Friday night in Tucson, Arizona.
The unbeaten WBO featherweight champion is just as concerned with Servania as he was with Miguel Marriaga five months ago. Colombia’s Marriaga gave Valdez a tough time April 22, but Valdez overcame some troublesome moments to win a 12-round unanimous decision in Carson, California.
The scheduled 12-round bout between Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) and Servania (29-0, 12 KOs) will headline an ESPN tripleheader from the Tucson Convention Center (10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
“I’ve seen him fight before,” Valdez said on a conference call this week. “He’s a tough fighter. I’ve got nothing bad to say about him. … Not a lot of people know him. And there was a point when nobody knew who Manny Pacquiao was. There was a point where nobody knew who ‘Chino’ Maidana was. And they come to America and show their skills.
“I had the same questions when I fought Miguel Marriaga, because not a lot of people knew who Miguel Marriaga was. And I kept on telling everybody that Miguel Marriaga’s a tough fighter, and I really believed it. And it was a great fight. You saw he was a tough fighter. So I’m actually expecting something similar from Genesis Servania right now. I’ve seen him fight, he’s a tough fighter and I’m definitely not taking him lightly.”
The 26-year-old Valdez wants to put on an impressive show in a homecoming of sorts.
The 2012 Mexican Olympian lived in Tucson from ages 3-9, before moving back to Nogales, Mexico, with his father. Valdez’s mother, grandmother, uncles, cousins and numerous friends reside in Tucson, where he won a non-title fight in December 2015.
A win would move Valdez into position for more meaningful, lucrative bouts, but Valdez understands Servania, also 26, has traveled to the United States to ruin his career.
“I think this division is a very tight division,” Valdez said. “There’s a lot of great talent out there, a lot of great fights that can happen. But Servania’s not a walk in the park. Genesis Servania deserves as much respect as all the other fighters because he’s ranked No. 4 in the WBO, and he’s an undefeated, solid fighter.
“I’ve seen him fight before and he has that typical Filipino style, just jumping everywhere, throwing punches from different angles. And I know it’s gonna be a hard fight. It’s not gonna be easy for me. I know I have to do my best to come out victorious that night, and that’s what I’m planning to do.”
ESPN’s telecast will begin with a scheduled six-round featherweight fight that’ll match Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan (3-0, 3 KOs) against Kenny Guzman (3-0, 1 KO), of Kalispell, Montana. In the co-featured fight, Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez (35-0, 24 KOs) is set to defend his WBO super middleweight title against Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart (22-0, 18 KOs) in a 12-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.