Tuesday night’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN show is the last one on the schedule for a while, and we’ll close out in the 130-pound division, as former featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21 KO) takes on veteran Jayson Velez (29-6-1, 21 KO) in what is meant to be Valdez’s final “tune-up” before a date with WBC titlist Miguel Berchelt.
Here’s how our staffers see Tuesday’s main event going.
After he got his jaw broken against Scott Quigg, Valdez decided to tone down his Action Fighter instincts upon return, taking up with trainer Eddy Reynoso and looking to become A Boxer.
The problem is Valdez is not A Boxer, really. Carmine Tommasone and Jason Sanchez showed little resistance, but even someone as flawed as Adam Lopez was able to catch Valdez and really test him, and Valdez was forced to revert to his natural style. It’s understandable that he wants to prolong his career and take less punishment, but he’s really not skilled enough to strictly be A Boxer at the high levels. If he gets to Miguel Berchelt, to have any chance to win, he’s going to have to fight like himself and let it fly.
But Velez is not Miguel Berchelt, either. Velez is a solid veteran fighter, once a strong Puerto Rican prospect who didn’t quite live up to the hype, but can still fight. He’s coming off of a loss to Jaime Arboleda in February, a split decision and a really entertaining scrap. Velez might could nick a few rounds in this one, but I don’t think he winds up with an argument. I do think he goes the distance, as he’s never been stopped and Valdez probably won’t look to seriously press matters unless his back winds up against the wall. Valdez UD-10
Oscar Valdez is really a pleasure to watch. Even as he recently took a step back from his all-action firefights under the training of Eddy Reynoso, Valdez still managed to put on a fun fight in his last outing against Adam Lopez. Valdez’s fan friendly style has betrayed him in the past (obviously more by way of physical injuries rather than any actual losses) but I think he’s learned some lessons that will suit him well going forward. As for Velez, well, he’s really just not the caliber of fighter that Valdez is. Once Valdez starts breaking him down, I think he hands Velez the first stoppage loss of his career. Valdez TKO-9
Patrick L. Stumberg
There was an amusing stretch early in Valdez’s fight with Adam Lopez where he really, really tried to be a proper boxer. At one point, he attempted to weave and slip his way through a lengthy combination, only to get plunked by a shovel hook and planted on his ass. He thankfully reverted to his proper slugging style after that, but it still took a questionable stoppage from the eternally questionable Russell Mora to get him the win.
That’s the situation Valdez currently faces in a nutshell. He’s clearly not cut out to be a technician, but between the mileage on his body and the fact that he’ll be dealing with bigger fighters from now on, it’s unclear how long he can get away with brawling.
Luckily for him, Velez doesn’t look like he’ll be too tricky. The Puerto Rican is tougher than hell, but faces steep disadvantages in speed and punching crispness. Even if the finish isn’t there, Valdez should be able to win their constant series of close-range exchanges and claim victory. Valdez UD-10
Valdez has promised not to look past Velez this week as he works towards a shot at Berchelt’s WBC strap later this year. The 29-year-old has spoken highly of the Puerto Rican challenger the past few weeks and sees him for the durable, rugged fighter he is.
Valdez’s reign as WBO featherweight champion wasn’t without tests. Quigg and Servania took years off the champion in wars that he may never fully recover from. I’m expecting Velez to try and walk down Valdez early in the contest and maybe get some success doing so. If Valdez can rip to the body in the pocket he may be able to slow the underdog down, but if he trades then it could transpire into a war of attrition.
Valdez will be eyeing the stoppage, but if Velez gains pockets of success in the fight, Oscar may settle for the decision rather than pushing too hard. Valdez UD-10