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Valero makes strong statement with KO

04
Apr

AUSTIN, Texas — Edwin Valero wasted little time in gaining the attention of the American public.

Valero, fighting for the first time in the United States since 2003, stopped Antonio Pitalua 49 seconds in the second round to win the vacant WBC lightweight title Saturday night in the Frank Erwin Center on the University of Texas campus.

The Venezuelan has now stopped all 25 of his opponents.

“This is the beginning of big things,” Valero said in the ring after immediately after the fight. “No man can take my punch.”

So far, it’s difficult to take issue with that comment.

Pitalua (46-4, with 40 knockouts) came into the fight with credentials. His record speaks for itself, although most of his fights have taken place in Mexico. He has a lot of power himself. And he’s a very young 39.

However, he never really had a chance to show anything. Valero made sure of that.

The fighters felt each other out in an uneventful first round, although Valero pressed the action and Pitalua seemed to be a tight, perhaps even intimidated by his opponent and the moment.

Then, seconds after the second round started, BAM! Valero landed a straight right that badly hurt Pitalua and put him down. The Mexico-based Colombian managed to get to his feet but went down again under a storm of punches.

After regaining his feet again, he was trapped in a corner with Valero raining down punches when the referee jumped in and stopped it.

Just like that, Valero, who has 19 first-round knockouts, ended another fight in an instant.

“He’s the best lightweight in the world,” said his promoter, Bob Arum. “Anyone who is willing to fight him, we’ll accept the challenge. I’d love for Juan Manuel Marquez to step to the plate but he’s a whiner. I don’t think he’ll go in with a guy like this.

“Jorge Linares maybe. We'll look around for an opponent. Manny Pacquiao, if everything goes well against Ricky Hatton (on May 2), would be great. But we want to build (Valero) up more so the public knows him better.”

Of course, there are complications. Valero is licensed to fight in the U.S. only in Texas because of a head injury suffered in a motorcycle accident in 2001 in which he had bleeding on his brain.

Arum said he’d have Valero fight again in Texas or in Mexico and ultimately try to get him licensed in other states, including Nevada.

“One step at a time,” Arum said, “one step at a time.”

Valero took a nice step on Saturday.

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