Jose Valenzuela is grateful for the opportunity to appear in a showcase slot on a major pay-per-view event.
It’s far from the end game, however.
The 22-year-old Los Mochis, Mexico native can advance from fast-rising prospect to budding contender in his next fight. Valenzuela will face former WBC junior lightweight titlist Francisco ‘El Bandido’ Vargas as part of a four-fight Showtime PPV event on April 16 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The main event pits local hero and unified WBC/IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs) and WBA titlist Yordenis Ugas (27-4, 12KOs) in a three-belt unification bout.
“This fight means everything to me,” Valenzuela told BoxingScene.com. “It’s a dream come true for me to fight on a card with so many great fighters.
“No disrespect to nobody else on the card but I’m looking to steal the show and be the most talked about afterward.”
It’s a bold statement by the unbeaten lightweight, given the main event and the rest of the lineup.
The PPV undercard features top-rated lightweight contender Isaac Cruz in a crossroads bout with faded former featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa, while unbeaten welterweight Cody Crowley faces former title challenger Josesito Lopez. Topping a lead-in Showtime telecast, WBA ‘World’ welterweight titlist Radzhab Butaev (14-0, 11KOs) defends his belt versus 2016 Lithuanian Olympian and current mandatory challenger Eimantas Stanionis (13-0, 9KOs).
Valenzuela believes he can outdo that pack, and perhaps for good reason. He enters on the heels of a brutally one-sided fourth-round knockout of Austin Dulay last December 18 on a PBC on Fox show from Minneapolis. Valenzuela called for tougher challenges after that, seeing elite level talent every day in the gym under the guidance of Jose Benavidez Sr.
With that comes the benefit of training alongside unbeaten former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez, rising super middleweight Diego Pacheco and unbeaten junior middleweight Jose Benavidez Jr.
“It’s a great experience training with David and Jose Benavidez and their team,” notes Valenzuela. “When I go and spar other fighters, I feel like a veteran because I’ve been training with them since I was a teenager. It’s been a great opportunity for me.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox