By Keith Idec
Oscar Valdez realizes he doesn’t have an easy fight scheduled for September 22.
The unbeaten WBO featherweight champion’s optional title defense against Genesis Servania (29-0, 12 KOs) will mark just the second time Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) will face an undefeated opponent since he turned pro in November 2012. But if the favored Valdez defeats his Filipino challenger next month, he hopes his following fight will determine partial featherweight title unification.
The two-time Mexican Olympian mentioned matchups with WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) and IBF 126-pound title-holder Lee Selby (25-1, 9 KOs). The title unification fight that really intrigues Valdez, though, is a meeting with the winner of the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares rematch on October 7 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I wanna fight the best,” Valdez told BoxingScene.com. “That’s something I’m always trying to prove to everybody, that I’m not scared of nobody and I’m not scared of putting my undefeated record on the line to prove that I’m the best. I would love fight the Mares-Santa Cruz winner. I know Mares and I’ve seen Santa Cruz a couple times. They’re great people. It’s nothing personal against them. It’s just that if you claim to be the best, I wanna fight you then.
“The winner of Santa Cruz and Mares, I would love to take that fight because I would be unifying my title. I think that fight is gonna be a great fight. Santa Cruz won the first fight, but anything can happen. I think Mares is still up there with the best. He proved that by beating Jesus Cuellar. I see Mares have a great chance of beating Santa Cruz.”
Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs), the WBA super world featherweight champion, defeated Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) by majority decision in their action-packed, 12-round fight in August 2015 at Staples Center. If a fight with the Santa Cruz-Mares winner cannot be arranged, Valdez would turn his attention toward Maryland’s Russell or Wales’ Selby.
“These are fights that I always have on my mind,” Valdez said. “When I’m training and getting tired and getting a little exhausted in the ring, those names come into my mind and it just pushes me to train harder. Because those are fights that I want and fights that I would eventually get credit for. Genesis Servania is a tough fighter. He’s a very tough fighter. Miguel Marriaga is a tough fighter.
“If I beat them, I don’t get credit because people don’t know them, they’ve never fought on TV in the States. So people don’t know them and the boxing fans, this is the way they think. ‘If I don’t know you and I don’t see you, I assume that you’re a bum inside the ring.’ I don’t like that. I wanna be known as a guy that fights the best. And even though Genesis Servania might be one of the best, if I beat him I get no credit. Why not fight a guy who might be just as tough as Genesis Servania, like the title-holders? Because if I beat them, I’ll get recognized by the world. So that’s the reason I would wanna fight these big names.”
ESPN will broadcast Valdez-Servania as the main event of a doubleheader September 22 from the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona. Valdez, 26, spent part of his childhood in Tucson before returning to Mexico, where he was born and currently resides.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.