After a scare in his initial contest at 130lbs, WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez looked far more accomplished in his second, halting dogged Jayson Velez with just 37 seconds remaining in the 10th and final round at ‘The Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Tuesday night.
WBC No.1 contender Valdez survived a second-round knockdown in his 130lbs debut against late sub Adam Lopez last November before turning the tables in the seventh, but illustrated greater polish and power against former world title challenger Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) who had never previously been stopped.
A more tactical Valdez, showing improvement under trainer Eddy Reynoso, dropped the Puerto Rican in the fifth and twice in the 10th to tee up a WBC title tilt at compatriot Miguel Berchelt in a fight that screams war. After being dropped by left hooks in the fifth and tenth, a right hand sent a falling Velez into the ropes in the dying embers of a one-sided fight where referee Tony Weeks intervened.
“Miguel Berchelt is the fight I want. He has the WBC title at 130 pounds. I want the WBC title. Miguel and I would make for a great fight,” said Mexican Valdez, who is also the WBO’s No.1 contender at 130lbs. “Velez was everything I expected, a tough warrior who fought his heart out. I commend him for a great performance and a great fight.”
Super-middleweight banger Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) registered his 14th consecutive first round stoppage with a dismissal of the usual sturdy Eric Moon (11-3, 6 KOs) in just 62 seconds. An overhand right downed Moon and referee Kenny Bayless waved it off.
“It was another step-up fight for me. We prepared to go rounds, but I got him hurt and got him out of there,” said Berlanga. “I still have so much room to grow as a fighter. The power is there, but I will show everyone that I am a well-rounded fighter. The knockout streak is cool, but there is more to me than first-round knockouts.”
Former WBO 122lbs champion Isaac Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs) rebounded from two straight defeats to Emanuel Navarrete to stop two-time world title challenger Chris Avalos in the eighth of a featherweight 10-rounder. A right hand prompted referee Russell Mora to step in as Californian Avalos (27-8, 20 KOs) took too much punishment.
“I was off for 14 months. This was a long time coming. I felt great with my new trainer, Barry Hunter. We’re only getting warmed up,” said Dogboe. “I wanted to show everyone that Isaac Dogboe never went away. I’m still here, and I am only getting better.”
After taking time off from boxing to work as a nurse at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kim Clavel (12-0, 2 KOs) clearly outscored Natalie Gonzalez (6-1, 1 KO) in a light-flyweight bout. Scores were 80-72 across the board.
“I knew it would be a hard fight because she’s a good fighter. She had a good amateur background,” said Clavel. “This was my first time here. I had some pressure, but with every round, I felt better and better in the ring with my coach. We won all the rounds. This is what we wanted. I would love to stay active and fight again before the end of 2020. I want to be the best in the light-flyweight division.”
Rising southpaw 140-pounder Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) scored his second knockout in just 19 days, dispatching Dennis Okoth (4-4-1, 2 KOs) with a left cross in the second round.