Oscar Valdez loved watching the Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales and the Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez fights.
As a proud Mexican, the extremely competitive, entertaining nature of those unforgettable battles inspired him during Valdez’s ascent as an amateur fighter. Valdez realizes the proverbial bar those legends established is very high, but the former WBO featherweight champion gets the sense he and Miguel Berchelt are equipped to produce a memorable Mexican battle of their own Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“I feel this fight has all the potential to be a great fight,” Valdez told BoxingScene.com, “like every time you’ve got two Mexican fighters inside the ring. I think this fight has all the ingredients to be one of those fights. On my side, I can promise anybody that I will not back down.”
Eddy Reynoso, Valdez’s trainer, wants him to box Berchelt in a disciplined manner because Berchelt is the bigger fighter and a powerful puncher. Valdez knows, though, that once they start exchanging punches in this 12-round, 130-pound title fight that it’ll be tough to resist the urge to trade with the defending WBC super featherweight champion.
“With Berchelt’s style and my style, I think it’s gonna be a very entertaining fight,” Valdez explained. “You can have a game plan. Obviously, we both have our game plan. But until you get punched in the face, like Mike Tyson said, that game plan goes out the window. Sometimes you’ve just gotta brawl it out and see who wants it more, who’s hungrier and who wants to take the belt home. So, I’m really hungry right now, extremely dedicated, and I will do whatever it takes to become victorious that night.”
Odds-makers have installed Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) as approximately a 4-1 favorite. His underdog status is among the things that have motivated Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) during training camp for the biggest fight of his eight-year pro career.
Valdez also wants to be remembered as a legend among Mexican boxers. Winning this fight in impressive, memorable fashion is imperative if the two-time Mexican Olympian is to be mentioned in the same breath as the icons he grew up admiring.
“One of my biggest dreams is to be considered one of the best Mexican fighters,” Valdez said. “I wanna be on the list of the greatest Mexican fighters out there. It’s very hard to get on that list because you’ve got Julio Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, [Ricardo] Lopez. You’ve got a lot of great Mexican fighters, but my goal in the long term is to definitely be on that list.
“I wanna inspire kids, like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera inspired me. I would want them to say, ‘One day, when I grow up, I wanna be like Oscar Valdez.’ That’s my dream in the long term, but for that to happen I’ve still got a long road to go. I first have to beat Berchelt and keep on winning titles to be on that list I wanna be on.”
Berchelt, 29, and Valdez, 30, will headline an ESPN telecast scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. EST and 7 p.m. PST from MGM Grand Conference Center. In the 10-round co-feature, 130-pound prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. (19-0, 6 KOs), of Stockton, California, is set to oppose Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.