GLENDALE, Arizona – Jose ‘Rayo’ Valenzuela couldn’t pick a better occasion for his first trip to New York.
The red-hot 22-year-old lightweight has planned a scouting trip that will lead him to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where secondary WBA lightweight titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (26-0, 24KOs) and mandatory challenger Rolando 'The Boxer Formerly Known As Rolly' Romero (14-0, 12KOs) meet atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View event. Valenzuela will be in the crowd, with the expectation of leaving with his next opponent in tow—no matter the outcome of the main event.
“It’s a really good fight. I want the winner or the loser, to be honest,” Valenzuela told BoxingScene.com while in Glendale, Arizona in support of stablemate David Benavidez’s recent knockout win over David Lemieux. “I’ll be there, scouting for my next opponent. Winner or loser, they’re both good names regardless. Either one will make for a great fight for the fans, That’s really what’s most important.”
Valenzuela (12-0, 8KOs) has rapidly emerged as one of boxing’s hottest prospects, to the point where it is believed the Seattle-based Mexican lightweight will soon advance to contender status. That is the plan for Valenzuela, who has stopped seven of his last eight opponents including an 85-second destruction of former WBC junior lightweight titlist Francisco Vargas on the April 16 Showtime Pay-Per-View undercard at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Having put in more than three months during training camp, Valenzuela and his team hoped for a stiffer challenge. So now, their search turns to opponents with less miles on the odometer and with far more to lose. Valenzuela even offered to step in to face fellow unbeaten lightweight Ryan Garcia (22-0, 18KOs), who is currently without an opponent for a July 16 DAZN headliner likely to take place in Los Angeles.
“I want these top guys. I definitely want an undefeated fighter or a top contender for my next fight,” insists Valenzuela. “The last one was a great experience but (Vargas) was a little order. So, we want a stronger test for the next one, someone in their prime.”
Either side of Saturday’s main event will fit the bill. Davis is recognized as one of the sport’s most explosive fighters and its biggest box office attractions as indicated by ticket sales threatening to break the record at Barclays for the highest-grossing event not involving the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Romero enters unbeaten, though a bit raw but still—record-wise—not too far advanced from Valenzuela.
“I’m ready for all of these big names,” insists Valenzuela, just in his fourth year as a pro. “All the main belts are tied up (in the June 4 undisputed lightweight championship between WBA/IBF/WBO champ George Kambosos and WBC titlist Devin Haney), so we might as well fight each other to get ready to face the winner.
“That’s why I’ll be in New York (on Saturday). I would love to get the winner of Tank-Rolly but if he has plans, the loser is still a big name as well.”
BoxingScene.com has learned that Valenzuela will likely join Saturday’s telecast at some point, in the form of an interview with host Brian Custer.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox