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Berchelt vs Valdez predictions, preview, breakdown: Who wins the fight?

Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez are set for a likely war on ESPN. Who wins tomorrow night?

Joe Scarnici and Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Top Rank Boxing is back on ESPN and ESPN+ on Saturday night (Feb. 20, 6:45 pm ET for the undercard, 10 pm ET for the main card), with a highly-anticipated main event between WBC junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Berchelt and former featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez.

We’ve also got a solid step-up fight for prospect Gabriel Flores Jr in the co-feature. So who wins the ESPN bouts on Saturday night?

We’ve got our picks in.

Gabriel Flores Jr vs Jayson Velez

Scott Christ (4-1-1)

Velez is what he is, a solid gatekeeper sort at this point in his career, so the question is mostly whether or not Flores gets past the gate. Flores is young, doesn’t turn 21 until May, and has some good skills, which he’s been able to show off on various Top Rank undercards and in one makeshift main event last summer.

Velez is a step up for him, though. Now 32, Velez has generally lost to the better fighters he’s faced, and while I think he’s a good matchup for Flores right now, I expect the prospect to get through it. Velez will basically have to overpower Flores to have any chance. Flores’ lack of pop is really his biggest concern, because while he’s clearly a good boxer, the question of whether he’s a great one is also still up in the air. I think he’s good enough already to get past this step, but the jury will still be out further up the ladder. Flores UD-10

Wil Esco (4-1-1)

I’ve never been all too high on Jayson Velez, and at age 32 going against a young gun like Flores I don’t think this ends well for him. Flores might not be much of a puncher, but he’s young and spry with enough to outwork and outlast Velez if I’m being honest. So I don’t feel much of a need to overanalyze this contest because in my mind this is largely just another stepping stone for Flores. Yes, Velez is a step up in competition for Flores, but this is surely a fight Flores should win when it’s all said and done. I’ll take Flores to win a clear decision on the cards. Flores UD-10

Patrick L. Stumberg (4-1-1)

Flores doesn’t immediately jump out as a transcendent talent at this stage in his career; he’s sharp as hell, sure, but I don’t see him carrying the super featherweight division on his shoulders. Still, he doesn’t need to be a generational superstar to get past Velez. As long as he stays focused and mobile for all 10 rounds without giving the Puerto Rican free shots on the ropes, he’s good enough to keep Velez on the end of his jab and check hook all night.

Flores doesn’t always do the best job of managing range, so Velez could very well find success if the counters don’t dissuade him. More likely, though, Flores circles and potshots his way to a comfortable decision. Flores UD-10

Lewis Watson (3-2-1)

Velez as an opponent for Flores at this stage in his career is just fine. He’s mixed it with some of the best, hits hard enough to ask questions and has a solid set of whiskers on him. Flores will keep this fight on the outside and tick off the rounds as Velez tries to find routes through the Flores defence. If he does, then it would be good to see how Flores stands up to some real heat – he ate a solid left hook from Kielczweski in his previous outing but nothing in the form of a sustained attack. Flores should be too smart for Velez in this one – his work to the body looks impressive and may get him close to a stoppage. Flores UD-10

And the staff winner is...

Matt Conway v Gabriel Flores Jr. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Gabriel Flores Jr (4-0)!

How to Watch Berchelt vs Valdez

Date: Saturday, Feb. 20 | Start Time: 6:45 pm ET (Undercard) / 10:00 pm ET (Main)
Location: MGM Grand - Las Vegas, NV
TV: ESPN | Streaming: ESPN+
Online Coverage:

Miguel Berchelt vs Oscar Valdez

Scott Christ (4-1-1)

If Valdez comes into this fight trying to “box” the way he has since getting his jaw busted by Scott Quigg — and I don’t blame him, he’s trying to have as long a career as possible — then he’s going to struggle horribly. Berchelt is not Carmine Tommasone or Jason Sanchez or Adam Lopez or Jayson Velez, he can’t play in any of these rounds. He’s not going to get by on his B-minus boxing against an over-matched opponent.

One way or the other, the warrior is coming back out of Valdez in this fight. It’s a matter of “when.” To me, he might as well come out that way from the jump and give himself the best shot he can get. Berchelt is the favorite and going right to war with Berchelt might mean a rough, early night for Valdez, but Berchelt is hittable, too, and Valdez is a dog, he’ll get after it. That’s the best chance for Oscar to win, I think.

I think he might try to feel it out early, but Berchelt is going to press Valdez into action, he’s not going to leave it up to choice. And I think there’s going to be plenty of exchanges, plenty of hard offense from both, we could see someone hitting the canvas, we could see a good amount of blood. I think Valdez will go the distance but lose clear, maybe wishing he’d opened up earlier in the fight than he did. Berchelt UD-12

Wil Esco (4-1-1)

Honestly speaking, I really like Oscar Valdez and think he always brings it to the ring when it’s time to perform. The only thing is that he has had a penchant to get into firefights fairly often and although he still remains undefeated, he hasn’t walked away from some of these fights without taking some real punishment. I just can’t help but wonder if some of that accumulated damage hasn’t dulled his edge a bit, and I also can’t help but feel like he’ll get dragged into another slugfest against Berchelt.

If Valdez does go to war with Berchelt, is he still fresh enough to come out on top against another fighter who’s still riding high? This is a clear and obvious question in my mind, and I can’t say I’m extremely confident that he will. I do think Valdez has good hand speed and combinations and that will likely see him scoring early, but I think as the battle of attrition wears on, it’ll be Berchelt who starts coming on. I’m going to take Berchelt by late stoppage. Berchelt TKO-10

Patrick L. Stumberg (4-1-1)

Oscar Valdez is a former Olympian who scored 17 knockouts in his first 19 professional appearances, but you’d be forgiven for disbelieving that fact after some of his recent performances. In his last two fights, he needed a questionable stoppage to get past Adam Lopez and underwhelmed against Jayson Velez, who doesn’t offer half the potential violence of “El Alacran.” He’s not going to out-slug a man who walked through Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura, and the Velez fight showed that he’s woefully ill-equipped to try and box his way out of danger.

Even if Valdez finally abandons his attempts to become a technician and reverts to the natural bruising style that made him such a treat to watch during his rise, Berchelt’s too tough and too powerful to overwhelm in a slugfest. Unable to out-technique or out-brawl the super featherweight king, Valdez’s choice boils down to survival or going out on his shield. I say it’s the latter. Berchelt TKO-9

Lewis Watson (3-2-1)

Here we fucking go. This was the fight that stood out for me at the start of the year, but without trying to shit on it in the slightest, the closer we get the opening bell the more one-sided I see it becoming. Berchelt is big and strong at the weight and hits like a truck – with Valdez tasting the canvas plenty of times as a featherweight it’s hard to envisage Berchelt not hurting the unbeaten man and dragging him to a place where he can’t recover. If Valdez is patient and can time the champion onto some of his smoke – specifically a left hook that Reynoso will have pinpointed as a weapon that can hurt Berchelt – then he has a chance of nicking this one. He’s shown his boxing ability more in recent wins, but as soon as they start trading in the pocket I fear the odds will be stacked against Valdez. That being said, when it does go “ooorrrff” – don’t blink. Berchelt TKO-7

And the staff winner is...

Miguel Berchelt v Takashi Miura Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Miguel Berchelt (4-0)!

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