Mexico’s Oscar Valdez scored a majestic 10th round KO of fancied compatriot Miguel Berchelt to win the WBC super-featherweight crown and the plaudits of his proud fighting nation at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Saturday night.
Written off by the oddsmakers and many boxing observers, former WBO featherweight king Valdez became a two-weight world champion after dispatching Berchelt with a clinical left hook that sent ‘The Scorpion’ face down and unable to beat the count.
Having previously dropped the beleaguered Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) in the fourth and ninth rounds, it was Valdez’s third and final knockdown of a stellar display and afterwards he could not hide his satisfaction with the victory.
“There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong. I have a list of people who doubted me,” said the Eddy Reynoso trained Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs). “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’. I’m so happy right now, I can almost do a backflip like Teofimo Lopez.
“I want to take this belt home and I’m happy for that. Any champion out there… I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight. Let’s do it. I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want.”
Berchelt cut a relaxed figure early on in his seventh title defence, but Valdez’s nerves swiftly settled as he drew blood from the champion’s nose in the second. By the fourth, Valdez had established his command, scoring an official knockdown after a left hook wobbled Berchelt’s legs and eventually sent him careening into the ropes.
After experiencing further troubles in the fifth, referee Russell Mora told Berchelt to ‘show me something’ to continue in the contest. Valdez’s supremacy continued, as he switched stances but stayed dominant, yet Berchelt persevered with his fighting heart.
A left uppercut dropped Berchelt again in the ninth and his championship reign was almost over. With both eyes swollen, the noted puncher from Cancun was wobbled again in the 10th before a scintillating left hook sent Berchelt crashing face first to the deck with no chance of beating any count. Valdez roared with delight; the WBC crown and adulation of his countryman belonged to him.
On the undercard, rising 130-pounder Gabriel Flores Jr. halted former world title challenger Jayson Velez in the sixth round. Flores (20-0, 7 KOs) knocked down Velez (29-8-1, 20 KOs) twice in the fateful sixth, finishing matters with a left hook.
“I would love to get the winner of Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton. I’d love that,” said Flores afterwards. “I’m going to keep on working, and my performances are going to get better and better.”
Brazilian middle Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KOs) scored his career-best win with a fourth-round retirement of two-time world title challenger Artur Akavov (20-4, 9 KOs). Falcao, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, recovered from a testing opening round to dominate with Akavov pulled out by his corner at the end of the fourth.
After a string of stoppage wins, emerging 140lbs star Elvis Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs) was taken the full eight rounds by the sturdy Luis Alberto Veron (18-3-2, 9 KOs). Scores were 79-73 (twice) and 78-74.
Dominican Rodriguez said: “He’s a natural welterweight. He’s never been stopped, so I knew it would be a tough challenge, but you know I will go back to the gym and work harder to continue to grow in this sport.”
Main image and all photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images.