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KO of the Day: Edwin Valero v. Zaid Zavaleta

In honor of Edwin Valero (23-0, 23 KO) being cleared to fight in the state of Texas after spending the vast majority of his career in Japan (where he now lives), let's talk some Valero and then look at his last KO.

I'll tell you the truth -- I've never been overly impressed with Edwin Valero. But I truly am excited that he'll get his chance to come back to the U.S., since that will make it a lot easier for him to land bigger fights. We'd never know if he can handle world class guys or not, because fighting in Japan, he wasn't really going to get the chances. You're just not going to get Pacquiao or Marquez or Guzman to go to Japan to fight him. Not even Pacquiao.

People love him because people love knockout punchers. People also love him because people are pretty gullible, in many cases, to believe in the myth of guys like this that have built a legend. Valero's legend is as credible as most, and I give him that. His first 19 fights, he didn't fight anyone. You can say that about most guys, too.

It's part of why Kimbo Slice is such a phenomenon. The idea of the unbeatable street fighter (even though he's been beaten) coming into MMA and fighting the real deal guys is exciting to a lot of people. Valero's situation isn't exactly the same, but the framework is similar.

Since then, he's beaten Vicente Mosquera via tough tenth round TKO, and he beat the tough Nobuhito Honmo in the eighth when it was stopped on cuts. He's got more stamina than some will give him credit for. Going hard rounds with those guys is worth something. No, neither of them are Manny Pacquiao. But the October 2007 version of Marco Antonio Barrera was no Edwin Valero, either.

If you watch enough video of Valero, his overall growth as a boxer is pretty apparent, though he's still nowhere near "slick" or anything like that. He's a fighter -- even more accurately, he's a puncher. He's got everything needed to be an attraction, because as much as people love the sweet science and I know that's what we're supposed to talk about, all you REALLY need is knockout power to be a star. It won't make you a great fighter and it won't get you to Canastota, but you'll make some money. When a guy can go into any fight with the chance of it ending at any moment thanks to his fists, he's going to make money.

That said, let's be honest. The man can't box, really. He's OK when he needs to be, such the bout with Honmo, who is more technically proficient than a guy like Genaro Trazancos, a fight where Valero looked particularly poor past the stone fact that he hits really damn hard.

Valero could be to the 130-pounders what Darnell Wilson is to the cruiserweights. Darnell Wilson is not going to beat Steve Cunningham or David Haye or O'Neil Bell or Jean-Marc Mormeck. They're all too good for him, but there's still that slight chance they get caught with one of his bombs. Valero could knock anyone out were he to land a great punch. But does he have the hand speed, and the technique, and the boxing skill? Furthermore, does he have the defense to survive against a Pacquiao or Marquez? And as big of a mismatch as Joan Guzman v. Alex Arthur looks like, I think Guzman v. Valero would be even worse. It would look terrible, for one thing, and Guzman is so skilled that Valero might not be able to hit him.

I have mixed feelings on him. To be 100% honest, I don't think he's REALLY going to factor into the division, at least as far as becoming a truly top-tier guy. But he's exciting, and everyone should be happy that he's been cleared to fight in Texas so that he can pursue the big fights in America.

This is video from his last fight, in Mexico in December 2007. Like several Valero stoppages, this one seems to come almost out of nowhere. It's not a big, rousing, crowd-going-nuts sort of knockout. It just...happens. Zavaleta is no big deal, particularly for a guy holding the WBA 130-pound title belt, but it's a taste of Valero.

You want my advice, if you're unfamiliar with Valero? Be excited that he's coming back to fight in the States sometime, probably later this year. But don't buy into the myth too heavily. He is what he is, and quite probably, that's all he can be.

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