2/20 ESPN: Miguel Berchelt vs Oscar Valdez (WBC Super Featherweight Title)

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patscorpio

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As had been expected, Miguel Berchelt vs Oscar Valdez is now officially on for Feb. 20 on ESPN, with Top Rank announcing the fight and the card’s co-feature today.

Berchelt (37-1, 33 KO) and Valdez (28-0, 22 KO) were originally slated to wrap up Top Rank’s 2020 on Dec. 12, but Berchelt came down with COVID and the fight had to be postponed. But it’s on now.

The 29-year-old Berchelt will be defending the WBC junior lightweight title in the main event. He fought once in 2020, beating club fighter Eleazar Valenzuela in a June 27 fight from Mexico City which doesn’t actually count toward his official record, as there was no commission present due to COVID restrictions. Valdez, the 30-year-old former WBO featherweight titlist, fought on July 21, beating Jayson Velez via 10th round TKO.

The co-feature will see junior lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr (19-0, 6 KO) take on his toughest test to date in the form of veteran Andrew Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KO), who held a version of the WBA 130-pound title in 2019.

The 32-year-old Cancio signed with Top Rank after Golden Boy released him following his Nov. 2019 upset loss to Rene Alvarado, likely more because Cancio had been critical of the company not trying to get him bigger fights than because he lost. He hasn’t fought since, and Top Rank’s attempts to schedule him in 2020 all went awry for one reason or another. Cancio hasn’t actually fought outside of the Fantasy Springs in Indio, Calif., since 2016, and I have theorized that he was cursed by a witch during an 19-month break from boxing between 2016-18, putting a spell on him that he would never fight outside of Indio again. This is just a theory, but so far it has been holding up.

Flores, 20, is a good prospect, a fighter Top Rank like a lot, but some have questions of whether his skills will be good enough to hold up against better opponents, when a perceived lack of power may come more into play. Flores has gone the distance in his last six fights following a highlight reel KO in May 2019. Is he waiting for MAN STRENGTH!!!!!!!!? Is he just who he is? Is he good enough to get around it? Cancio’s a good test right now.

As for me, personally, I find it upsetting and frankly rather insulting that Top Rank are putting this show head-to-head with the Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul PPV. As America’s most ardent Berchelt believer and someone who supported every “Bubble” show from 2020, including the lousiest and stankiest of the lot, I simply feel I am owed better than this. It is unjust and I may have no choice but to track down the witch from the Cancio situation.
 

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GABRIEL FLORES (19-0) TO FACE JAYSON VELEZ (29-7-1) ON FEB. 20
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BY FRANCISCO SALAZAR
Unbeaten Gabriel Flores will now face Jayson Velez on February 20, Top Rank announced Thursday afternoon.

The 10-round junior lightweight bout will take place at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas and will precede the main event bout between WBC junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Berchelt and mandatory challenger Oscar Valdez.

Both fights will air live on ESPN (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

Flores (19-0, 6 knockouts; pictured above, in photo above by Mikey Williams) was originally scheduled to fight contender Andrew Cancio, a fight that was officially announced last week, but Cancio had to pull out of the fight due to a reported back injury.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Flores fought three times in 2020. In his last bout on October 3, the 20-year-old, who is originally from Stockton, California and now lives and trains in Las Vegas, defeated former fringe contender Ryan Kielczweski by unanimous decision


In his previous fight on June 18, Flores dropped Josec Ruiz of Honduras once enroute to a one-sided decision victory.

Flores, who signed a promotional deal with Top Rank at the age of 16, is trained by his father Gabriel Flores, Sr.

On paper, Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) will be a step-up in opposition for Flores. The former featherweight prospect has fought several top fighters at 126 and 130 pounds, including Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz, Rene Alvarado, Ryan Garcia, and Ronny Rios.

In his last bout on July 21, Velez, who resides in Juncos, Puerto Rico, was dropped three times by Valdez en route a knockout loss in round 10.


In his previous fight on February 8, the 32-year-old lost by split-decision to Jaime Arboleda of Panama, a fight many at boxing insiders thought Velez did enough to win.

Velez has split his last six fights.
 

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Oscar Valdez: Julio Cesar Chavez is Picking Berchelt - That Motivates Me!
By Miguel Rivera

Published On Tue Feb 2, 2021, 06:40 PM EST

Former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) is gaining motivation from the increased opinion that Miguel Berchelt will beat him on February 20, when they clash for the WBC super featherweight title at the MGM Grand's Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Valdez has even listened to the opinions of his idols, who are also siding with Berchelt.

"That motivates me, I have listened to my great idol Julio Cesar Chavez, who says Berchelt is going to win; that motivates me, there is nothing more beautiful in life than when you say quiet and let your fists speak for themselves," Valdez emphasized to Jose Luis Camarillo.

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Their contest was scheduled to take place in December, and later pushed back when Berchelt was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Valdez, inactive since July of last year when he beat Jayson Velez, is very eager to get in the ring.

“Adversity turns into the opposite, I visualize myself in the future talking to young people, to the children that I have inspired, explaining that I was crowned (champion) during a pandemic, that I went to parks in order to train. We are living in very strange times. It would be a good way to visualize a movie in my future," Valdez said.

"What happened (the postponement) is a message, I know that things happen for a reason, it is my way of thinking, I never let a bad comment affect me, I always try to make sure everything is fine in my camp, I stay positive - that's what wins the fights, to have a good atmosphere, arrive well prepared physically, but even more so mentally. Losing is not an option!

“I train with the same intensity, but smarter, more focused; more disciplined. I finish training and arrive home directly to rest. If you gave 100 percent, you end up very tired, you only get to eat and sleep, there is no energy for anything else. We are training very hard, I want to shut mouths. I want to fulfill my dream of continuing to win, to be on that list of great boxers in history."
 

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Valdez allegedly ducked Stevenson for a WBO title fight

I predict brutal bloody KO by Berchelt , that's unless the ref saves Valdez first
 

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Falcao-Akavov, Rodriguez-Veron Land on Berchelt-Valdez Card
By Random Hits

Published On Thu Feb 4, 2021, 04:12 PM EST

Brazilian middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao is coming back to America. After a pair of knockout wins last year in his home nation, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist will take on two-time world title challenger Artur Akavov in a 10-rounder Saturday, Feb. 20 from MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

In a junior welterweight special feature scheduled for eight or six rounds, knockout wizard Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez will face Argentine veteran Luis Alberto Veron.

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Falcao-Akavov, Rodriguez-Veron and additional undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+ at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT. The evening continues live on ESPN & ESPN3 (in Spanish) (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) with the all-Mexican showdown between WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt and former world champion Oscar Valdez, and junior lightweight contender Gabriel Flores Jr. against former world title challenger Jayson Velez.

Falcao (27-0, 19 KOs), ranked No. 5 by the IBF and WBO, is a seven-year pro who ended his sterling amateur career with a 215-15 record. He has won four consecutive bouts by knockout, including an eighth-round stoppage over Mexican veteran Jesus Antonio Gutierrez in July 2019. Akavov (20-3, 9 KOs) nearly dethroned WBO middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders in December 2016, dropping a controversial decision. He challenged for the same world title in January 2019 and was bested by Demetrius Andrade en route to a 12th-round TKO loss. Akavov last fought in October 2019 and knocked out 50-fight veteran Sergei Melis in five rounds.

Falcao said, "I am ready to face the best in my division. My opponent is a good boxer, but I am better and I am ready to become a world champion. No fighter will stop me. I'm training very hard with Robert García. I'm sparring with the best because I am one of the best. On February 20, I will show the world once again that I am ready to become a world champion."

Rodriguez (10-0-1, 10 KOs) emerged as one of boxing’s hottest prospects in 2020, going 5-0 with five knockouts, including four headline-making stoppages inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble. He last fought Oct. 9 and became only the second man to knock out 37-fight veteran Cameron Krael. Veron (18-2-2, 9 KOs) has never been knocked out as a professional and is a former WBO Latino and South American welterweight champion. He is coming off a competitive decision defeat to 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk in January 2020.

Rodriguez said, "I want to show that I am ready for the big fights. I think I deserved to be the Prospect of the Year. Not being named Prospect of the Year has motivated me more than ever. I am here to become a world champion. I am very grateful for the opportunities Top Rank is giving me and for the efforts of my entire team. I am going to show who I am through my actions in the ring, not through words or social media."

In other ESPN+ streaming action:

Xander Zayas (6-0, 5 KOs), the Puerto Rican prodigy who celebrated his 18th birthday last September, will clash with Philadelphia native James Martin (6-1) in a six-round welterweight fight. Zayas signed with Top Rank at 16 years old and hopes to extend his knockout streak to four against Martin, who has never been stopped in the paid ranks.

“Since my last fight, I’ve had an extended camp and have been fortunate to spar numerous world champions and top fighters, which has provided me a wealth of experience,” Zayas said. “I’m excited to fight on February 20 and put on a show for my fans.”

Unbeaten junior lightweights collide when California Central Valley favorite Bryan Lua (7-0, 3 KOs) fights Puerto Rican prospect Frevian Gonzalez (4-0, 1 KO) in a six-rounder. Gonzalez and Lua won two fights apiece inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble last year, with Lua scoring a highlight-reel knockout over Luis Norambuena in his first fight following a 27-month layoff.

Sonny “The Bronco” Conto (6-0, 5 KO), South Philadelphia’s latest heavyweight hopeful, is set to return from a 13-month layoff against Waldo Cortes (6-3, 3 KOs) in a four-rounder. Conto battled assorted injuries throughout 2020, but he is ready for a busier 2021. Cortes fought Bubble favorite Kingsley Ibeh last June, giving as good as he received before being knocked out in the fourth round.

Milwaukee-born middleweight sensation Javier Martinez (2-0) will make his third appearance inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, this time in a four-rounder against Montana native Billy Wagner (3-1, 1 KO).

One of Puerto Rico’s brightest young talents, Omar Rosario (2-0), will make his Las Vegas debut in a four-round welterweight tilt versus fellow unbeaten Uriel Villanueva (1-0). Rosario, a 23-year-old from Caguas, won the 2020 Olympic Trials for his home nation at 152 pounds before electing to turn pro.
 

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14-Day Weights: Miguel Berchelt: 136-Pounds, Oscar Valdez 136.4
By BoxingScene Staff

Published On Tue Feb 9, 2021, 09:44 PM EST

The highly anticipated fight between the super featherweight champion of the World Boxing Council, Miguel “Alacrán” Berchelt, and the former undefeated world champion Oscar Valdez, is less than two weeks away from the scheduled date of February 20 at the MGM Grand's Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Both fighters are going through the WBC's pre-fight weight requirements.

As part of those requirements, the fighters have submitted their 14-day pre-fight weights, showing their great commitment and exceptional professionalism.

Berchelt weighed in at 136-pounds on the nose, while Valdez came in at 136.4-pounds.

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Berchelt, 28-years-old, with a record of 37-1 with 33 knockouts, has made six defenses of the title that he won against another tough Mexican boxer, Francisco Vargas, in January 2017, and is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished and dedicated fighters at the weight.

Valdez (27-0, 21 knockouts), 29-years-old, made a decision to move to the super featherweight division in 2019 after a solid campaign at 126-pounds, where he captured the WBO world title and made several defenses.
 
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