Getting in some rounds during a general downtime for the sport was the primary goal for Miguel Berchelt’s latest ring adventure before moving onto bigger business.
It meant fighting in front of a crowdless venue, which the defending 130-pound titlist from Merida, Mexico took in stride as he stopped countryman Eleazar Valenzuela in the 6th round of their lightweight non-title fight on June 27 in Mexico City. By his own admission, it wasn’t Berchelt’s best performance but simply enough to get out of the way his first fight of 2020 and now focus on the matchup he’s long craved.
“I felt great, but the altitude Mexico City hit me a little bit,” Berchelt (38-1, 34KOs) admitted after his recent ESPN-televised headliner. “It is not easy to fight in Mexico City, but thank God we got the victory.”
Mexico City is nearly 7,400’ above sea level, a much higher altitude compared to Berchelt’s relatively flat hometown of Merida.
Neverthless, all it took was a powerpunching display by the 28-year old to turn away Valenzuela (21-14-4, 16KOs). Berchelt landed a staggering 63% of power shots according to Compubox, including a barrage of punches in the sixth round to stop Valenzuela on his feet.
“Eleazar is a tough fighter. He endured everything I threw at him,” noted Berchelt, who scored the bout’s lone knockdown with a left hook near the end of round. “He gained my respect. My experience as world champion pushed me forward.”
Berchelt can now push back down to his 130-pound title reign, where he has made six successful defenses of the belt he claimed in an 11th round knockout of Francisco Vargas in January 2017. Next up is a highly anticipated clash versus former featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21KOs), who first has to take care of Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez atop the July 21 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN live from Las Vegas.
A clash between Berchelt and Valdez was due to take place earlier this spring, instead becoming one of many bouts to be placed on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Both have been granted stay-busy fights, with the hope that fans will be permitted to once again attend sporting events later in the year.
“Now what follows is the expected fight against Oscar Valdez," Berchelt said after scoring his 17th straight victory, with all but one ending inside the distance. “Every fan wants to see that fight and we are ready for that war.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox