Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez remain on course for their mouthwatering showdown, although it will require having to wait a little longer than recent plans had suggested.
The pair of all-action Mexican sluggers are close to finalizing terms for a junior lightweight title fight which is now penciled in for December 12, two sources with knowledge of such talks informed BoxingScene.com on Thursday. The bout will air live on ESPN, likely to take place in Las Vegas although the venue remains among the items that remain in discussion.
Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole was the first to report the latest development in the months-long discussed matchup.
Berchelt and Valdez both posted summertime knockout wins to set up their forthcoming clash, each doing so in separate ESPN-televised headliners.
Merida’s Berchelt (38-1, 34KOs) moved up for a one-off lightweight adventure, scoring a 6th round knockout of countryman Eleazar Valenzuela this past June in Mexico City. The bout was his first non-title fight since Decmeber 2015, having claimed an interim belt in 2016 before winning the real thing in an 11th round stoppage of then-unbeaten Francisco Vargas in January 2017.
Six successful defenses have followed, including a repeat knockout win over Vargas last May followed by a four-round wipeout of former secondary titlist Jason Sosa last November in Carson, California. All told, Berchelt has won 17 in a row since a fluke 1st round stoppage loss in March 2014, now presently serving as one of the longest reigning active titlists in the sport.
Valdez (28-0, 22KOs) was willing to run toward the sound of gun fire in his desire to become a two-division titlist. The unbeaten 29-year old from Nogales, Mexico—who now lives and trains in Southern California—abandoned his featherweight title reign last summer after having made five successful defenses, opting to campaign in the junior lightweight division.
Two wins have come at the weight, though by varying degrees of success. Valdez had to rise from the canvas en route to a 7th round stoppage of late replacement Adam Lopez in their shootout last November. The win came four weeks after Berchelt’s rout of Sosa, with their timelines married up in what was intended to lead to a springtime collision.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic ruined those plans, with both accepting stay-busy fights while Top Rank sought to reschedule their fight for later in the year.
Valdez’ opportunity came in the form of a July 21 ESPN headliner, stopping former title challenger Jayson Velez in the 10th round of their non-title fight at The Bubble in Las Vegas. The win was his fourth since joining forces with head trainer Eddy Reynoso, best known for his work with boxing superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and who voted as the 2019 Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Once all terms are reached, the bout serves as one of several centerpiece attractions for Top Rank’s fall lineup. Already on the books is a World lightweight championship clash between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez, set to air October 17 from The Bubble. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Terence Crawford and Kell Brook are nearly at the finish line for a November 14 welterweight title fight at a venue to be determined.
In a perfect world, Berchelt-Valdez will serve as a primer for the third fight between World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury—who is co-promoted by Top Rank—and former long-reigning titlist Deontay Wilder. Their clash is tentatively eyed for December 19 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, though with the date remaining fluid as the ongoing global health crisis continues to be monitored by all vested parties.
As it stands, Berchelt-Valdez lands on a loaded fight date. Also confirmed for December 12 is a Showtime headliner between unbeaten bantamweight titlist Nordine Oubaali and former four-division champ Nonito Donaire. A forthcoming announcement should also confirm plans for the return of unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua, who is set to make the first defense of his second reign versus Top Rank-promoted mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at The O2 in London, England.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox