By Cliff Rold
Exciting 24-year old featherweight contender Oscar Valdez (18-0, 16 KO), 127 ¾, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, kept busy on the road to a possible title shot with a third round knockout of 23-year old journeyman Ernie Sanchez (15-7-1, 6 KO), 127 ½, of General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, in the main event Saturday night at the Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The referee was Wes Melton.
Sanchez showed up to give a good account of him. He did that for most of the length of the fight. Under fire from the quicker and more skilled Valdez, Sanchez managed to land some decent right hands to keep the steamroller in front of him honest.
Being frank, it didn’t matter for long. Valdez showed off his full arsenal against an opponent set to allow just that. He whipped shots to the body, fired in combination, and closed the show in style. With less than twenty seconds to go in round three, Valdez slipped a right hand and came up with a nasty left hook. Sanchez was in bad shape but managed to get to his feet before the toll of ten. Swaying badly, Melton made the right call and halted the action at 2:59 of the third.
It was Valdez’s second straight knockout win on the heels of a career best stoppage of former 122 lb. title challenger Chris Avalos. It was Valdez’s third knockout in four wins for the year. Valdez. Valdez entered rated by three of the four major sanctioning bodies, including a #9 rating by the WBC and the IBF.
Valdez’s highest rating is the number one spot in the WBO ratings. The current WBO titlist is Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KO) and both fighters share a promoter. Could a showdown be on tap in 2016? It’s an increasingly intriguing clash between one of the great amateurs of all time, the three-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko, and a two-time Olympian in Valdez.
The televised opener featured a young talent who got in just enough shape to protect his undefeated mark.
23-year old interim WBA Jr. welterweight titlist Jose Benavidez (24-0, 16 KO), 152 ¼, of Phoenix, Arizona, missed the contracted weight of 147 by more than five pounds and was lackluster for much of the night. It was still enough to hold off game 38-year old Sidney Siqueira (26-11-1, 17 KO), 145 ¾, of Sao Palo, Brazil, for a unanimous decision in ten rounds.
The referee was Tony Zaino.
Benavidez won the bulk of the rounds sharpshooting, doing the better work at center ring. They were often competitive as Benavidez would go to the ropes and Siqueira would let his hands go, landing his share.
Benavidez opened up in the tenth and appeared to score a knockdown early but the referee ruled it a slip. He nearly felled Siqueira again later in the round but the Brazilian kept his balance. He lasted the frame and the fight went to the cards where Benavidez was rewarded with scores of 99-91 and twin shutout tabs of 100-90.
A crowd enamored with the effort of the underdog booed the decision.
The card was televised in the US on UniMas as part of its “Solo Boxeo” series, promoted by Top Rank.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]