SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 21, 2020 – After 42 days and 2,300 COVID-19 tests, Top Rank Boxing saved its best boxing card from The Bubble in Las Vegas for the final bout in its post-pandemic experiment.
In the main event ambitious Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico (28-0, 22 KOs) set up his expected showdown with WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt with a late TKO win in ten rounds over Jayson Velez (29-7-1, 21 KO) of Puerto Rico.
Valdez doesn’t do anything the easy way. Velez was the busier fighter early, steadily rolling up rounds by connecting far more often than Valdez. Valdez seemed to be waiting for the right opportunity. He wasn’t doing enough on his end to make it happen by drawing Valez into position and threw few jabs. Valdez was most effective going to the body of Valez but he weathered them well.
Valez continued to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Valdez, who couldn’t find answers because the questions kept changing. Then Valdez found the key with a vicious left hook near the end of the fifth round, timed nicely and causing Valez to stagger backward and fall.
As the sixth round opened, Valdez came back with more lefts to the body and head, followed by right hooks upstairs. Valdez began to crowd Valez inside, where he was less effective. Still, Valez fought back and hung in there, and Valdez eased off. His face began to swell and showed the accumulated damage from Valez, giving an effort to the maximum of the veteran’s ability.
Valdez counted on a left hook getting the job done in the final rounds. Valez left himself open, but he avoided the worst of it. He hurt his case being penalized a point for a low blow in the ninth round, but it didn’t matter. Valdez caught Valez with a left hook to the temple halfway through the tenth round and then sealed a second knockdown with a left to the temple. Valez beat the count but after a few more shots referee Tony Weeks called a late stoppage for Valdez with 37 seconds left in the fight. It was the first time Velez has been stopped as a pro.
“I felt rusty at first,” admitted Valdez. “I had to go to war. I was capable of being that guy ,thanks to Eddy (Reynoso) for the conditioning in the gym. In boxing, you never stop learning. Eddy always has something to offer. I still have to prove myself in the ring. I’m ready to go back in the gym, and keep on working, and conquer my dreams to become a world champion.”
Does Valdez believe he’s ready to take on Berchelt? “I’ve got a lot to improve. Berchelt is a great warrior, a great champion. I have great respect for him. He has something I want. That’s what I want, that’s what the fans want. With two Mexicans in the ring, there are always going to be fireworks,” said Valdez.
Edgar Berlanga bangs his way to 14th straight first-round KO
THE STREAK LIVES 😱
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) July 22, 2020
Edgar Berlanga of Brooklyn (14-0, 14 KOs) didn’t make his growing fan base wait long for his 14th first-round knockout win in 14 fights against Eric Moon (11-3, 6 KOs) of Marietta, Georgia. The time of the KO came at 1:02.
Eric Moon was determined not to be a sitting duck and came right at Berlanga from the opening bell. Berlanga stayed calm, waiting for his opportunity. It only took one minute for Berlanga to position Moon against the ropes, hit him with a few body shots, and deliver a highlight reel style right hook to the head, dropping Moon with ease. No count necessary.
“I love you Mom, I love you Mom!” said Berlanga as the result was officially announced, honoring his mom who worked double shifts as a nurse to support him. Berlanga, age 23, is a super talent in the super middleweight division. The native of Puerto Rico grew up idolizing Tito Trinidad.
Berlanga called it a step-up fight. “I was very well prepared for him, we were in the amateurs and Olympic trials together,” said Berlanga. “Right now, man I’m looking forward to a title, but I still want to grow. I still want to get rounds in. I’m still a young lion in the sport. There are a lot of killers at 168 I have to get ready for.” Feel free to board the bandwagon, it’s going to be a fun ride.
Kim Clavel stays perfect in American debut
Kim Clavel of Montreal (12-0, 2 KOs) maintained her perfect record in her return to the ring against Natalie Gonzalez of New Rochelle, NY (6-1, 1 KO). Clavel scored an eight-round shutout by scores of 80 to 72 on all cards.
The flyweight power puncher made her first U.S. appearance in the ring Thursday, but she’s already known to American sports fans as the winner of the 2020 ESPY Pat Tillman Award for Service. When Clavel’s March 21 bout was canceled, she stepped up and returned to work as a nurse on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. She was the first non-American to win.
Clavel had to improvise on training with old school tactics, and they served her well. Gonzalez wasn’t afraid to stand and take the heat from Clavel, and Clavel served up plenty of it. These types of women’s bouts make you wish for full three-minute rounds.
Elvis sighting in Las Vegas: Rodriguez blows out Okoth
Elvis Rodriguez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic made quick work of Dennis Okoth of Kenya (4-4-1, 2 KOs). Now training in Los Angeles with Freddie Roach, Rodriguez sized up Okoth as no threat. He delivered a knockout win at 2:33 of the first round courtesy of a grazing right jab setting up a textbook straight left on the money and fans knew the fight was over before Okoth hit the canvas. Insert your favorite Elvis and Las Vegas joke here.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) July 22, 2020
Rodriguez had such an easy night, he informed Top Rank he’d been good to go on the undercard of the upcoming card headlined by Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol, tentatively set on August 29 back at The Bubble.
Isaac Dogboe digs in and returns to good form
Featherweight Issac Dogboe of Ghana (21-2, 15 KOs) began his road back to top form with a solid, assured performance against Chris Avalos of Lancaster (27-8, 20 KOs), getting the TKO win just before the end of the eight-round bout.
Dogboe dismissed his father as his trainer to work with veteran Barry Hunter of Washington DC, best known for training Lamont Peterson. Dogboe dug to the body and showed no nerves after suffering two crushing defeats by Emanuel Navarrete. Dogboe’s bodywork strayed low in the fifth round and referee Russell Mora docked a point without an audible warning, but it wasn’t fatal. When he started mixing up headshots I in the last round and caught Avalos hard with a right hook, Mora decided it was enough.
Dogboe did the right thing to put in rounds and get used to being in command in the ring again for the first time in many months. Avalos was an ideal opponent, tough enough to give Dogboe the work with an honest effort of his own and just dangerous enough to prevent Dogboe from being reckless.
“It’s been a tough 14 months,” said Dogboe. “I’m grateful, praise the Lord for my comeback Everyone has been by my side guiding me through these 14 months. We’re still warming up. I felt great in there today.” Dogboe said he had to listen. “I could hear a voice in y head. Just take my time, relax. I shouldn’t force it. Sometimes I’m a little bit tense. I wanted to flow, I felt great.” It was good to see the broad smile on the Ghana native’s face against. Neho!
Top Rank will now return to a regular Saturday night schedule starting August 22 featuring light heavyweights Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr. in the main event. The ESPN team who’ve spent all 47 days inside The Bubble will get a chance to go home and take a well deserved break with the fans’ thanks for bringing boxing back.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal 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. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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