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Valdez vs Sanchez: Staff picks and predictions

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Oscar Valdez faces Jason Sanchez this Saturday night on ESPN.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Oscar Valdez takes on unproven but unbeaten challenger Jason Sanchez on Saturday night in an ESPN main event with Valdez’s WBO featherweight title on the line, and our staff are ready to make their picks.

Scott Christ

When someone screwed up and forgot to nicely ask the WBO to rank Erick Ituarte so that he could fight Oscar Valdez for their featherweight title, I was pissed. Not because I think Ituarte is a better opponent than Jason Sanchez — it’s not a good fight on paper either way — but because I’d just seen Ituarte fight on a Thompson Boxing stream on April 19.

What I would have said was that Ituarte has some skills and is game, but lacks the firepower to seriously challenge Valdez. But instead we have Sanchez, on whom there is precious little footage. There are a few clips, including him knocking the crap out of Daniel Olea on Feb. 2 in Texas. But other than maybe seeing his win over Jean Carlos Rivera last October in Panama, what would there even be to really take in? Sanchez hasn’t fought anyone otherwise. Valdez is trying to box more, but by nature he’s an action fighter. I’m guessing Sanchez will go for it, and honestly I expect this to be entertaining even if it isn’t competitive. Sanchez is in a no-lose situation and Valdez is Valdez. Valdez TKO-6

Wil Esco

To be completely transparent, I don’t really know much about Jason Sanchez. I’ve tried to at least do a little homework on him but couldn’t readily find much tape on him to really draw from. I do know, however, that he’s not even ranked in the top 100 featherweights in the world according to BoxRec, while Valdez is top five. But based on what I have seen from Sanchez, he’s a battler, and he’s probably coming to bring it this weekend.

That could make things interesting as Valdez has a strong penchant for letting it all hang out and going to war with his opponents, even if he’s been trying to change that as of late. Valdez remains undefeated thus far, but he’s also taken serious punishment along the way. He’s still 28 years old though, so I want to think he’s young enough to have sufficiently licked his wounds without those wars affecting him too much in a fight like this. On paper, this is a fight Valdez should win handily, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a tougher-than-expected outing. I’m still going with Valdez by late stoppage anyway. Valdez TKO-10

Patrick L. Stumberg

The UFC may be crippled by the blatant favoritism of its figurehead, but at least it consistently puts its fights online. I tried to be a good little writer and watch some Sanchez tape for this, only for YouTube to fail me.

Honestly, though, I’m not sure how much that would have told me; four of his last six opponents were 12-27-2, 1-8-1, 3-35-4, and 58-46-2. Not the sort of murderer’s row that would adequately prepare someone for Valdez. Sure, Valdez will make it more difficult for himself than he needs to, as is his nature, but I doubt Sanchez has the firepower to hold his own in a brawl. Valdez scores a highlight-reel finish and, hopefully, walks away with all his bones intact this time. Valdez KO-4

Lewis Watson

I can’t claim to know much about Jason Sanchez. The challenger may be unbeaten, but his record fails to give any inclination that a shock may be on the horizon at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Valdez has been a solid holder of the WBO featherweight belt for the past three years and always gives value for money in all-action scraps. The Mexican isn’t afraid to take a lick to land two back, so if Sanchez comes to fight, we could have an entertaining fight for as long as it lasts.

A slight issue with Valdez is his admission in struggling to make 126-pounds. A move up to super-feather is expected following this fight, with the 28-year-old under no illusions that his power is beginning to wane at featherweight. Can Sanchez use this to his advantage and push the fight into the championship rounds? It’s unlikely, but it’s fun to push a narrative following a fortnight of perceived mismatches. Valdez TKO-10 to 12

And the staff winner is...

Oscar Valdez v Miguel Marriaga Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Oscar Valdez (4-0)!

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Valdez vs Sanchez starting at 10:00 pm ET on ESPN on Saturday, June 8, with prelims beginning at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN+