Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez are ready to enter the 2021 Fight of the Year race.
A long-planned showdown between the pair of Mexican junior lightweights now has a date, with their 130-pound title fight being eyed for February 20 on an ESPN platform. Representatives from both camps as well as Top Rank officials confirmed the news to BoxingScene.com on Monday afternoon.
Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole was the first to report the rescheduled date.
Berchelt and Valdez were originally due to meet on December 12 at The Bubble at MGM Grand in what would have served as the final title fight to have aired on ESPN in 2020. Those plans were compromised once Berchelt (38-1, 34KOs) tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw.
Both fighters are coming off of non-title wins this past summer to set up their head-on collision, which many anticipate as a can’t-miss action fight.
Berchelt will attempt the seventh defense of the junior lightweight title he violently snatched in an 11th round stoppage of then-unbeaten countryman Francisco Vargas in January 2017. The 29-year old from Merida, Mexico last put his title on the line in a one-sided 4th round drubbing of former secondary titlist Jason Sosa last November in Carson, California. At the time, plans called for Berchelt to next face Valdez, who survived a scare four weeks later in his 130-pound debut, overcoming an early knockdown to stop Adam Lopez inside of seven rounds last November in Las Vegas.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic ruined plans for a springtime title fight, instead settling for separate showcase bouts behind closed doors. Berchelt took a non-title fight at lightweight, stopping countryman Eleazar Valenzuela in the 6th round of their June 27 ESPN headliner in Mexico City.
Valdez (28-0, 22KOs) followed suit, stopping Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez in their 10th round of their July 21 ESPN main event from The Bubble at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The win was his second at 130 pounds following a three-year featherweight title reign before vacating his crown last summer.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox