Most would agree that the Miguel Berchelt vs Oscar Valdez fight on Saturday night met expectations, with Valdez offering up a Knockout of the Year type of snuff job on Berchelt at the MGM Bubble in Las Vegas.
The day before the drama played out, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told Bad Left Hook there would be tears in his eyes as he watched the highly-anticipated showdown, because he knew that in three months or so, the pandemic will have lifted enough to have placed the fight in a sold-out arena.
“So, did you weep some while watching the fight last night?” I asked Arum when checking in Sunday afternoon.
“No, I was just so amazed at the action, and so happy for Valdez,” Arum replied. “I remember it like it was yesterday, Oscar and his father came to see us, and we discussed signing him. And they decided to go with us, and agreed that we’d be able to work with Oscar and help get him to the sort of place he is now. But he has been with us since his very first fight.”
That’s Arum almost showing some sentiment, because it’s been a few years since the 30-year-old Valdez (29-0, 23 KO) started out as a pro. He was part of the batch signed by Top Rank, which included Jose Ramirez, seen by some then as the best pro prospect from the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. Some thought Puerto Rican Olympian Felix Verdejo would pan out as the best of the crew signed by Arum’s firm.
Arum also told me he had a feeling Valdez, who has been fine-tuning with trainer Eddy Reynoso for a solid spell, would win.
“I told Derrick Harmon, who works for me, if he had some extra bucks, to bet on Oscar,” Arum said. We are told that a good big man beats a good so-called little man, Arum added, but Valdez isn’t just good. His skills, his ring generalship, combined with above-average heart, and character — Arum felt those traits would bring him to the win.
Arum already has some ideas about what’s next for Valdez, and isn’t writing off the possibility of a rematch with Berchelt, but he may have his sights set on something he feels could be really big.
“In about a week, I’ll check in with the Berchelt team,” he said. “But the one that I think is really big, the biggest fight after Tyson Fury against Anthony Joshua, is Valdez against Shakur Stevenson. Before (Berchelt-Valdez), I would have told you that Shakur is favored to win. But now, after that fight, I’m not saying that. I’m not going against Valdez.”
And with light at the end of the pandemic tunnel getting brighter, Arum is thinking about options far beyond the “bubble.” Valdez-Berchelt 2 could fill a building, in his mind. And he wouldn’t want to take it to Mexico, as the revenue pot there isn’t as beefy as it would be doing it in the States.
Arum did say Valdez will be getting a call from the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Obrador had touched base with Berchelt before Valdez scored his career-defining stoppage victory, so he’ll even up the score and congratulate the victor.
The promoter is also back to thinking about what fights can be placed in Allegiant Stadium, too, so Valdez could be in the mix for an outing at the home of the Las Vegas Raiders.