You almost have to feel bad for Oscar Valdez. The former featherweight champion came off the deck to stop Adam Lopez in seven rounds last Saturday, kicking off his 130-pound campaign, but since the Las Vegas bout, all anyone wants to talk about is Glendale, California’s “Blunose.”
“He won, but it’s definitely gotta be a bittersweet moment for him because everyone thought he was gonna walk through me,” said Lopez. “But I really exposed him and a lot of people are telling me I gave (WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel) Berchelt the blueprint to beat him.”
It was a close fight and an exciting one. Valdez led on two of the three judges’ scorecards, but it was still anyone’s fight before what many believe was a quick stoppage by referee Russell Mora ended it.
But that’s not why everyone’s still talking. They’re still talking because Lopez, who was originally scheduled to face Luis Coria last weekend, instead found himself in the ring with the unbeaten Valdez on a day’s notice when Andres Gutierrez came in 11 pounds overweight for his main event bout.
And when approached to save the headlining fight, Lopez didn’t hesitate in his response, though he did pay the courtesy to his management team and trainer Buddy McGirt to get their two cents on this high risk / high reward opportunity.
“On my part, there was zero hesitation, but with the new team I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page,” Lopez said. “I just let everyone know that in my heart I believe I can beat Oscar and I let Sheer Sports handle the negotiations to make sure it made sense and I talked to Buddy and made sure he was on board. I said, ‘Buddy, I can beat this guy.’ He said, ‘All right, if you think you can beat him, I’m right behind you one hundred percent.’ I’ve been wanting to fight Oscar for years, and once he moved up I thought the opportunity was gone. But it presented itself and something in me just told me to take it.”
There was no rivalry between the two, but Lopez always wanted to test himself against Valdez, and this almost seemed like fate calling his name.
“I noticed he (Valdez) fights with a lot of emotion and that’s kind of how I used to fight before I started training with Buddy, and he (McGirt) showed me that you can’t fight with emotion,” said Lopez. “You gotta really use your mind and think about what you’re gonna do before you do it. So I thought he really fought with emotion and he’s got wide shots, he’s training with a new coach so they’re trying to change his style up, so for me it was the perfect time to take the fight. We all know how it ended, but it is what it is.”
It started well enough, with Lopez dropping Valdez in the second round, and he kept it close the whole way, proving that he can hang with the best in the world. So when it’s all said and done, Lopez and his team can’t even look at the defeat as a negative.
“Honestly, it didn’t feel like a loss,” he said. “I went in there, I was a big underdog, and using just my jab, I controlled the fight and I showed that I do belong and that I’m gonna be a problem at 126 for whoever decides to fight me. So it doesn’t really feel like a loss, but I gotta take it for what it is. It was a huge learning experience for me.”
“It’s a classic example of a boxer losing a fight, but winning in life,” adds Lyle Green of Sheer Sports, the firm that manages the 23-year-old’s career. “Adam's story already transcends boxing.”
Ace publicist Rachel Charles agreed, and she’s had Lopez making the media rounds since Saturday night.
“Oh yeah, my phone has been non-stop,” laughs Lopez, who told me before the fight that he expected the world to know his name in 2020. He’s a month early.
“Taking this fight, I knew it was gonna speed up everything. It was perfect. I had to take this opportunity and it all worked out for itself.”
But what would his late father, former Olympic silver medalist and pro contender Hector Lopez, have said about all this?
“He would have said, ‘You’re definitely my son,’” said Lopez. “He would have taken the fight as well.”