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The War Room: Berchelt vs Valdez, ESPN Saturday

Written By | Feb 19, 2021
Guerra guaranteed: Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez face-off during the weigh-in for the WBC super featherweight title. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images Berchelt vs Valdez

Guerra guaranteed: Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez face-off during the weigh-in for the WBC super featherweight title. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO, Calif., February 19, 2021 – Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez might not be household names like Manny Pacquiao or Canelo Alvarez, but if you like nonstop action in your combat sports, you need to make an appointment with your favorite screen on Saturday night.

The first highly anticipated boxing event of 2021 takes place in the MGM Grand bubble between WBC World Super Featherweight champion “El Alacran” (The Scorpion) Berchelt of Mexico (37-1, 33 KOs) and Valdez, a Mexican native now living in Southern California (28-0, 22 KOs). The fight airs on ESPN and ESPN+ with a three-fight card starting at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT. Undercards air starting at 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT on ESPN+.

Both men made weight at the 130-pound limit. Berchelt is the naturally bigger man, and he looks like it next to Valdez. Berchelt is 29, and Valdez 30. They’ve both fought nearly the same amount of pro rounds: 158 for Valdez, 153 for Berchelt. The pair engaged in an intense, length staredown at their weigh-in Friday.

Guerra guaranteed between Berchelt and Vargas

Berchelt and Valdez embody the all-action, aggressive ring offense of the classic Mexican boxer. Put two in a ring together, and fans are guaranteed to see fists fly. The bout is the heir to matchups like Barrera vs. Morales (which took place ago nearly 21 years to the day of this fight), Corrales vs. Castillo, and Vasquez vs. Marquez.

Berchelt has successfully defended the title six times, including dominating wins over Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas and three TKO victories, including a win over Miguel Roman. He carries an 85% knockout ratio, and with one exception, scored knockdowns of all but one opponent in his fights going the distance.

Berchelt: ‘All eyes in Mexico are on this fight’

Time was not on the side of Francisco Vargas (left), who lost a second time to Miguel Berchelt after giving up his title in their first bout two years ago. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Time was not on the side of Francisco Vargas (left), who lost a second time to Miguel Berchelt in 2019 after giving up his title in their first bout in 2017. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Berchelt said he’s been aware of Valdez since he represented Mexico in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “I respect him. We know the quality of the opponent we have in front of us, but I’m here to get the win and {retain} my title.

“This is going to be a good fight between two Mexican warriors. The winner could be the next superstar from Mexico. All eyes in Mexico are on this fight. From my side, I’m looking for a great knockout. Everyone knows what I can do with my knockout power,” said Berchelt.

Valdez has a 79% knockout ratio of his own. He’s known for incredible toughness, defending his WBO World Featherweight title with a broken jaw for half his fight against Scott Quigg with his face essentially held together by his mouthpiece. This is only his second fight at super-featherweight.

Oscar Valdez sets up a showdown with Miguel Berchelt with his 10th round TKO win over Jayson Velez. Photo: MIkey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Oscar Valdez set up a showdown with Miguel Berchelt with his 10th round TKO win over Jayson Velez in July. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Valdez is the underdog in the fight, and he understands why. “This is a difficult fight,” said Valdez. “There’s a reason he’s holding that belt. He’s a great champion inside the ring and outside the ring. Nothing personal, but I want that belt.

“I’ve dreamed of this moment. This is my chance to accomplish my dreams. I’ve trained hard physically and mentally. I’m going against the odds, I know I’m not the favorite. I’m ready for the test. I can’t wait to step inside the ring,” said Valdez. Valdez will step into the ring for his fifth fight with trainer Eddy Reynoso. He trains alongside pound-for-pound super middleweight Canelo Alvarez, and the ethic along with the high skill level makes it a winner’s training environment.

Berchelt’s trainer Alfredo Caballero was initially held up coming to Las Vegas due to visa issues, but he straightened things out in time. “We would have been fine even if he couldn’t make it, but I am grateful that it has been resolved and that he will be here on Saturday evening,” said Berchelt on Thursday. “We did all of the hard work in Los Mochis. I’ve waited for this fight for a long time, and we know what to do to win.”




Valdez: ‘This is my opportunity’

It was the kind of fight that only happens at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Oscar Valdez defeated Scott Quigg to retain his title and remain undefeated. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Valdez says everywhere he goes in Mexico, fans have asked when he’s going to fight Miguel Berchelt. He says it will be an honor to show them a great performance against another Mexican warrior.

“This is my opportunity. I’m not going to go in there and not give it my all. I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I have to box, I’ll box. If I have to bang it and brawl it out, then I’m willing to do that, too,” said Valdez. Valdez says he has a Plan A, but he also has a Plan B and Plan C. Throughout the fight buildup, Valdez has never appeared more confident, despite being the underdog to the champion.

Berchelt says he always goes for the knockout. But he did hedge just a little about a guaranteed outcome. “Boxing is very unpredictable. I hope to have a war, but we can go the distance. What I’m really hoping for is a win from this side.”

Valdez agreed, saying the great guerras of history unfold on their own without a game plan.

“Those type of fights just come out naturally,” said Valdez. “If you try to force it, it won’t go as well as much as the boxer planned. The reason why those are great fights is that they go in there and try to win, don’t back down and give it their all. Those turn out to be great fights. That’s what makes it a great fight. I’m not going to try and give a Fight of the Year, do something crazy. What I will do in the ring is give it 100 percent. Every time I’ve done that, it’s turned out to be a great fight.”

Prediction: Hard to bet against Miguel Berchelt

Miguel Berchelt is a classic offense minded Mexican boxer. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Miguel Berchelt is a classic offense-minded Mexican boxer. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Boxing doesn’t really get any more basic. Forget the idea of any finesse or tactical defense. These guys see themselves as warriors, willing to eat a punch to score a harder counterpunch. They won’t give up until they are stopped for their own good.

Fans love guys like Berchelt and Valdez. One day they may reach the point of their careers where they have absorbed too much punishment. Berchelt’s only loss to Luis Eduardo Florez in 2015 by the first-round TKO is also the only time he’s been knocked down. Valdez has also survived a knockdown, but he got off the deck to win against Genesis Servania.

Berchelt has both a size and a significant reach advantage on Valdez. Valdez would be wise to box as long as he can, denying Berchelt the opportunity to inflict damage on the inside. But Valdez also thrives when the going gets tough. We predict the early rounds being tense nail biters. But somewhere in the middle of the fight, expect the floodgates to open, with Berchelt pressing the action and Valdez deciding it’s time to go for it.

While the smart money predicts a knockout, Valdez might be tough enough to make it to the final bell. If he does, it will be its own small victory and should win him a rematch. But it’s hard to see the fight going to anyone but The Scorpion – at least in the record books. Everyone will be a winner.

Gabriel Flores Jr. (left) and Jayson Velez pose at the MGM Grand Conference Center on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Gabriel Flores Jr. (left) and Jayson Velez pose at the MGM Grand Conference Center on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

The co-main event features another action bout, junior lightweights Gabriel Flores Jr. of California (19-0, 6 KOs) vs. veteran Jayson Velez of Puerto Rico (29-7-1, 21 KOs) in a ten-round bout.

Elvis Rodriguez has lived up to his namesake's talent for entertainment so far. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing Berchelt vs Valdez

Elvis Rodriguez has lived up to his namesake’s talent for entertainment so far. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Elvis Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic (10-0. 10 KOs) will see if he can keep his perfect streak alive against Luis Alberto Veron of Argentina. (18-2-2, 9 KOs). Rodriguez is trained by Freddie Roach and getting a lot of attention for his impressive raw skills.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is based in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow Gayle on Boxing  Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

 

 

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.