By Jake Donovan
Oscar Valdez admits he won’t fully realize the full effects of working with new trainer Eddy Reynoso even through their second fight together come this weekend.
All he knows is that he loves the results so far.
“It’s just our second camp together, so naturally there’s so much more for us to learn about each other,” Valdez (25-0, 20KOs) told BoxingScene.com ahead of Saturday’s ESPN-televised featherweight title defense versus Jason Sanchez (14-0, 7KOs) at Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev. “But so far, my skills are improving every day.
“I feel the difference in my punches, which I showed in (February) and can’t wait to showcase again this weekend.”
Valdez—a two-time Mexican Olympian from Nogales, Mexico—made the switch from longtime trainer Manuel Robles to Reynoso late last year after recovering from an assortment of injuries.
Both trainers have left their mark on the industry—Reynoso best known for his work with two-division champ and box-office blockbuster Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez; Robles has worked with numerous fighters through the years, his training career soaring to new heights in recent days in having guided Andy Ruiz to a massive upset knockout over Anthony Joshua last weekend in New York to become the first-ever Mexican to win the heavyweight title.
Valdez had long enjoyed his time with Robles, but just felt his career needed a change. It led to his working with the Reynosos—Eddy and Jose (better known as 'Chepo')—with their first fight together coming this past February in his two-round drubbing of previously unbeaten Carmine Tommasone.
Saturday will mark the sixth defense of the 126-pound strap Valdez acquired in a 2nd round knockout of Matias Rueda, whom was unbeaten heading into their July 2016 title clash. Since then, he’s managed to hand the first defeat to unbeaten challengers Genesis Servania and the aforementioned Tommasone.
In the latter fight, Valdez returned to the ring for the first time since a bruising 12-round decision victory over former 122-pound titlist Scott Quigg last March. That bout left him with a fractured jaw and assortment of wounds he needed to heal before making his way back to the ring.
In the nine or so months he’s spend with Reynoso, the reigning featherweight titlist is already feeling like a lightweight in a 126-pound frame.
“The difference is the training method,” notes Valdez. “Eddy is big on repetition to perfect every technique. He’s big on muscle memory.
“I feel the difference. My counter punches and defense is much better. I feel an improvement. Boxing is a sport where you never stop learning.”
On Saturday, Valdez’s opponent will learn the experience of fighting on the title stage for the first time. Sanchez comes in as an upset-minded rising contender who is just two fights removed from his biggest win to date—an upset 10-round decision win over then-unbeaten and highly touted Puerto Rican prospect Jean Carlos Rivera last October in Panama City.
Sanchez added a stay-busy win on the undercard of Valdez’s aforementioned knockout over Tommasone this past February in leading to his first career title fight.
“Eddy and I watched the fight where Sanchez beat Jean Carlos Rivera, it was a great win,” acknowledges Valdez. “We’ll see how much he’s improved then and since February, because the fighter he saw on the (ESPN show in Frisco, Texas) is not even close to the unbeaten champion he will see on Saturday night.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox