LAS VEGAS -- Oscar Valdez waited more than a year for his in-ring date with Miguel Berchelt to materialize.
Considering how things turned out, it’s fair to say that it was worth playing the long game.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Valdez acknowledged to BoxingScene.com of the twice-postponed junior lightweight title fight. “God always has a plan.”
Valdez (29-0, 23KOs) and his world class team—including renowned trainer Eddy Reynoso and manager Frank Espinoza—certainly had a plan, executed brilliantly and closing with a highlight reel 10th round knockout Saturday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The Top Rank-promoted, ESPN-televised win saw the unbeaten 30-year old become a two-division titlist, annexing the WBC 130-pound belt which Cancun’s Berchelt (38-2, 34KOs) held for more than four years.
Original plans called for the all-Mexico showdown to have taken place last spring, with fans in attendance. The coronavirus pandemic postponed the matchup, perhaps a blessing in disguise as Valdez had just moved up in weight after reigning as WBO featherweight titlist for three years but looked shaky in his junior lightweight debut. The now 30-year old from Nogales, Mexico—who trains out of Southern California—climbed off of the canvas to rally back and stop late replacement Adam Lopez in the 7th round of the Nov. 2019 clash at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
The bout came four weeks after Berchelt defended his title for the sixth time, scoring a punishing 4th round stoppage of former secondary titlist Jason Sosa at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Berchelt was considered a heavy favorite at the time he was due to face Valdez last spring, with the odds only marginally tightening up following separate showcase wins for both last summer which was to have set up a showdown last Dec. 12 in this very venue.
Berchelt had to withdraw due to testing positive for COVID-19, pushing back the fight another two months which allowed Valdez and head trainer Eddy Reynoso to further gel in what served on Saturday as their fifth fight together.
“Maybe when we were supposed to fight in early 2020, I wasn’t as ready as I was (on Saturday),” theorizes Valdez, who is now 10-0 (6KOs) in major title fights. “December 12, I was supposed to fight him. Miguel tested positive for COVID. It was clearly a sign that I wasn’t meant to fight him at that time.
“I was truly strong in there and was really focused. We just came into this fight knowing that everything happens for a reason.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox