In the days leading up to the WBC super featherweight title fight between Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez, there were many that felt that Valdez was the underdog coming into the fight. Even though it had been some time after he moved up from the featherweight division, the 30-year-old from West Covina was going up against the fighter viewed as the best at 130 pounds who had not lost in nearly seven years.
On Saturday night, Valdez had his chance to respond to the critics, and he made it loud and clear.
The Mexican battle between Valdez and Berchelt ended with an emphatic knockout by Valdez for him to stay unbeaten (29-0) and become a two division world champion. It capped off a great performance by Valdez over the native from Merida, Mexico who was aiming toward a seventh defense of the WBC title.
Valdez wanted to send a message early as he started the bout throwing big power shots. They were mostly blocked by Berchelt but it set the stage for what was coming later in the fight. After settling down a bit in the second, Valdez began to move backwards and use his speed and quickness to land more effectively and he scored well with his jab against Berchelt who was coming forward to get his offense going. The mobility was a problem for Berchelt as he tried to cut the ring off then land punches when Valdez had his back to the ropes. Valdez was landing more jabs which opened up more power shots in the third and fourth rounds. A sneaky left hook buckled Berchelt in the fourth and Valdez followed that up with a flurry of punches to cause Berchelt to fall back on the ropes. Russell Mora stepped in to call it a technical knockdown, and Berchelt was in serious trouble before the bell gave him some time to recover.
In the next couple of rounds, Berchelt tried to get his balance back in order as his legs were still weak after the punches he took in the fourth. He did continue to pressure Valdez but it did not have as much effect as he had against his previous opponents mainly because of the activity and the movement from Valdez. While Berchelt was getting back in it and landed a few shots in the sixth and seventh rounds there was not much that took away the momentum that Valdez gained with the knockdown. Once Valdez went back to boxing and using the jab, he was as successful with his offense as in the first few rounds.
The ninth round was more of what people saw in the second and third as Valdez was sharp and fast with his combinations and switching stances, capped with a right uppercut followed by a left hook then a right hand that put Berchelt to the canvas with 1:08 left in the round. Berchelt was exhausted but got up and made it to the tenth, where he continued to come forward but didn’t land punches with much emphasis compared to Valdez. The left hook that affected Berchelt over the course of the fight was the punch that ended the fight as Valdez backed away from a right-left combination that missed its target.
It was a victory that Valdez will enjoy for a long time as it was a symbol of validation for him as a lot of people felt he would be on the losing side of the encounter. He let all that saw the fight know that anything is possible regardless of who may be skeptical of what you can do.
“There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong,” Valdez stated after his victory. “I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out.”
“I have a message to everybody: Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Always prove them wrong.”
The win places Valdez at the top of the 130 pound division as he takes the spot from the fighter that held the WBC title for four years. That makes him a target for contenders and world champions in the division. He feels that he can take on anyone and is open to any challenge that is out there at super featherweight. His response to those challengers? “Let’s do it.”
“I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want.”
Cover photo by Mikey Williams of Top Rank via Getty Images