Oscar Valdez has suffered another undisclosed injury that has forced him to delay his return to the ring yet again.
BoxingScene.com has learned Valdez sustained his latest injury while training recently. After a doctor evaluated Valdez, he pulled out of his upcoming fight against Emanuel Navarrete for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title.
Mexico’s Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), a former WBO featherweight and WBC super featherweight champion, was supposed to face Navarrete in an intriguing 12-round, 130-pound championship fight February 3 at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico’s Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs), a former WBO junior featherweight and current WBO featherweight champion, is expected to fight a replacement for the unclaimed WBO junior lightweight title February 3 in a main event ESPN will televise.
The winner of that fight would then be expected to square off versus Valdez for the WBO 130-pound crown.
Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs), who is ranked third by the WBO at 130 pounds, will likely become Navarrete’s new opponent. England’s Archie Sharp (22-0, 9 KOs) has long been the WBO’s number one challenger for its junior lightweight title, but BoxingScene.com has been informed Navarrete won’t fight Sharp on February 3.
Sharp and Wilson had reportedly agreed to fight on the Jermell Charlo-Tim Tszyu undercard January 28 at Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. A title shot six days later would take precedence, however, over Wilson’s fight against Sharp.
Valdez is ranked number two by the WBO. Navarrete isn’t listed in the WBO’s 130-pound ratings because he owns the WBO featherweight title and thus is eligible for an immediate title shot because he has committed to moving up from the 126-pound division.
The WBO junior lightweight title became vacant when Shakur Stevenson came in overweight for his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Brazil’s Robson Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) on September 23 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Stevenson was stripped of his WBC and WBO belts at the scale September 22.
Valdez, 31, hasn’t fought since Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) dominated him in their 12-round title unification fight April 30 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The 2012 Mexican Olympian was supposed to box November 12 in Las Vegas, but the Nogales native postponed his return to the ring late in September due to an undisclosed, non-boxing injury.
His promoter, Top Rank Inc., hadn’t secured an opponent for Valdez’s November 12 bout. The Valdez-Navarrete bout hadn’t been officially announced, either, though both boxers had reached contractual agreements for what would’ve been one of the most fan-friendly fights on the boxing schedule early in 2023.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.