Oscar Valdez has scored the knockout of the year…
The 30-year-old Mexican boxer, a former WBO featherweight titleholder and a two-time Olympian, took down Miguel Berchelt at the MGM Grand on Saturday night to claim the WBC junior lightweight title.
Valdez’s upset win came after he rocked Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) with a left hook in the final second of the 10th round in an immediate favorite for knockout of the year.
Many expected Saturday’s fight between Berchelt and Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs)
to be a back-and-forth bout between two Mexican fighters. But, the violence was mostly one-sided.
“There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong,” said Valdez, who entered the fight as a plus-240 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. “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 anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.
Berchelt, whose only other professional loss came via TKO in 2014, remained on his back on the canvas for several minutes but was eventually able to sit and stand with assistance.
He was taken to a hospital afterward, and Top Rank president Todd DuBoef told ESPN that he underwent a CT scan that came back clear. Berchelt was expected to be released from the hospital Saturday night.
The stunning walk-off shot might have overshadowed the fact the much smaller Valdez dominated the fight. He scored knockdowns in the fourth and 10th rounds and was well ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the finish.
Judges had Valdez, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Arizona, ahead by scores of 89-80, 88-81 and 87-82.
“Oscar Valdez proved he is one of the great Mexican champions,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. “An absolute masterpiece in the ring tonight.”
Valdez outlanded Berchelt 149-99 in total punches and 103-64 in power punches, according to CompuBox.
The victory, which is Valdez’s third consecutive appearance at 130 pounds, could set up a junior lightweight title fight between Valdez and Top Rank’s Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), who was in attendance inside the “bubble” on Saturday and has expressed interest in taking on Valdez. Top Rank president Todd DuBoef said he would love to set up a fight between the two undefeated junior lightweights.
“I want to take this belt home, and I’m happy for that. Any champion out there … I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight,” Valdez said. “Let’s do it. I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want.”