SAN DIEGO, July 23, 2016 – The undercard fights in Las Vegas Saturday gave fans a variety of boxing styles to watch and enjoy.
Two time Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez (21-0, 19 KOs) realized the dream of every young boxer, winning his first title with an impressive second round knockout over previously undefeated Matias Rueda of Argentina (26-1, 23 KOs). Valdez got right to work, throwing an impressive array of accurate punches both to the head and the body. Barely a minute into the second round, Rueda took a knee in response to a left hook to the liver by Valdez. Rueda beat the count, but Valdez landed another fusillade of check left hooks and body punches. Russell Mora stopped the fight, giving Valdez the knockout win at 2:18 of the second round and the WBO featherweight title.
Valdez landed 64 of 115 total punches (56 percent) to 21 of 70 for Rueda (30 percent). Two thirds of Valdez’s punches were power shots (46 of 70, 66 percent).
An emotional Valdez said after the fight, “It’s a dream I’ve had since I was eight years old, becoming a world champion.” Valdez dedicated his win to a cousin killed recently in a motorcycle accident.
As to his next opponent, Valdez said he was ready to go. “I want the best! I want to fight everyone! Let’s do it!! Viva Mexico!” Valdez credited his entire team for the victory, saying “If you work hard you get to accomplish your dream … If the team works, the dream works.”
Valdez may not be ready or even available due to promoter issues to fight number one lightweight Leo Santa Cruz, but he might want to avenge an amateur loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in the near future.
Jose Benavidez Jr. (25-0, 16 KOs) tried to make his case for facing the top welterweights against Francisco “Chia” Santana (24-5-1, 12 KOs), but Santana wasn’t going to make it easy. Benavidez came out blazing from the opening bell, but Santana is too tough to quit or wobble despite any punishment. Santana mustered his determination and fought back well winning the middle rounds by taking advantage of working Benavidez on the ropes, making it a competitive, fan friendly fight. Benavidez seemed out of gas and Santana was going strong. Finally Benavidez seemed to realize the fight was slipping away from him and put together his best rounds at the end of the fight.
The crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena rewarded the fighters with a standing ovation at the end of the bout. Many observers thought it might end up as a draw, it seemed that close. But the judges all saw it for Benavidez, 96-94 by Kenny Bayliss, 98-92 by Glenn Feldman, and a wide 100-90 by Adelaide Byrd. Benavidez Jr. still has a lot to learn before he gets in front of the class of the division.
WBO titleholder Jessie Vargas was ringside, and Benavidez said he’d like a shot at Vargas next. Vargas is still looking for a next opponent after Kell Brook decided to face Gennady Golovkin. Although Vargas said he didn’t know Benavidez, he said, “if he wants it, come get it!”
It’s not an excuse, but prior to the fight, Santana discovered he had been given two left boxing shoes. His team had to quickly find another pair of shoes for the ring, and he ended up in standard athletic shoes for the fight.
Ukrainian light heavyweight Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (11-0, 9 KOs) found himself on his backside in the first round courtesy of American Tommy Karpency (26-6-1, 15 KOs), a first in his professional career. Gvozdyk’s trainer Robert Garcia told him not to worry, there were plenty of rounds left to catch up. Garcia was right. Karpency was smart to go on the offensive early, but he couldn’t follow it up. Meanwhile, Gvozdyk got down to business after the slow start and started piling up punch stats, until he landed a perfect left hand to the liver in the sixth round. Karpency chose to stay down and let the fight end at 2:21 of the round. Karpency’s conditioning seemed suspect, and he had suffered a nasty cut to the bridge of the nose two rounds earlier. He later said a punch “pushed his eye back” and he couldn’t see. Gvoydyk landed 101 of 397 punches, double the number for Karpency (56 of 221 total punches).
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. She is owner of the Falcon Valley Group based in San Diego, California. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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