Rodrigo Valdes and Bennie Briscoe re-entered the ring on May 25, 1974 after putting on a 12-round spectacle which saw Valdes win on points just under nine months prior. The vacant WBC middleweight title was up for grabs this time around, and both fighters fought tooth and nail to claim the crown.
Valdes had previously captured the NABF middleweight title after defeating Briscoe, and this time, the biggest sanctioning body in boxing offered up more bragging rights for the victor.
Both fighters were experienced. Briscoe owned a 49-12-1 record and had previously contended for the WBC middleweight crown, as well as the WBA title in a losing effort to then-undisputed champion Carlos Monzon. As for Valdes, he sported a 50-4-2 record.
In front of an eager crowd in Fontvieille, Monaco, Briscoe and Valdes brought action and skill to the ring in a must-see fight.
At the sound of the opening bell, Valdes instantaneously took to the ropes and Briscoe withered away at his body with sweeping hooks. As Briscoe stalked him around the ring, a snappy 1-2 combination to the face sent Valdes spiraling. Valdes then let his hands fly, throwing an incredible 24 unanswered punches with variety. Despite this astounding barrage, the round was rather close, but Valdes did enough to earn 10 points on my card.
In round two, Briscoe put Valdes’ back to the ropes and started with hooks, but also let off a 10-punch sequence, setting up a snappy uppercut that connected. Valdes seemed to not want to escape being cornered and threw back sparingly, but when Briscoe focused his hooks and crosses on his head, Valdes was forced to crouch again. The fight got sloppy midway with a lot of missed jabs and haymakers. Valdez ended the round superbly, landing tactful shots upstairs, giving him a two-round lead early.
A different story was told in round three, as Briscoe fell in love with his jab. Valdes had enough of making the ropes his strength and got to moving. A 1-2-3 to end the round made Valdes look both ways like a pedestrian at the light, and Briscoe earned himself a much-needed round.
As the fight progressed, Valdes earned a win in each remaining round, save round six, which was discernibly too close to call. Round four saw Valdes infiltrate Briscoe’s defense with a lightning-quick sequence that included a left and right hook, a straight left to the center of the body that opened up and a right cross to the face that opened up after that. It was a round of high punch counts but Valdes was more precise.
Round five was more of the same as Briscoe showed his Philly swag with the patented shell defense, but it only lasted a moment as he was otherwise outboxed. Briscoe got to playing pinball with Valdes’ head in the sixth as he found continual success forcing the Colombian on the ropes. To create space, Valdes used his jab effectively to even the round.
To close the fight, Briscoe connected on one of the most jarring straight rights you’ll ever see. He set it up with two uppercuts to drop Valdes’ hands, then threw the left jab to misdirect before dropping the anvil and pummeling Valdes. The last laugh would belong to Valdes as he landed a short right hand that caused Briscoe to stiffen up, leading to the TKO call.
Valdes vs Briscoe 2 pitted an unsung middleweight legend in Valdes against a bruiser of a middleweight contender in Briscoe, delivering an action-packed affair.
Valdes would go on to defend his WBC middleweight championship four times before losing in a unification bout to WBA and The Ring middleweight champion Monzon in June 1976. He would pick up two tune-up victories before losing in a rematch to Monzon in July 1977 for the same three belts.
Valdes finished with a record of 63-8-2, including a third defeat of Briscoe in 1977, before ending his memorable career.
Briscoe fell to 49-13-1 following his defeat at the hands of Valdes and would end his career at 66-24-5.