Valero: A tragic turn
Edwin Valero was with his wife and two small children in an Austin, Texas, hotel a day before he fought Antonio Pitalua last April. I remember saying hello to the fighter and looking over at his wife, Viera, who smiled politely.
“What a beautiful family,” I thought.
Now, his wife is dead and Valero is suspected of stabbing her to death in a hotel room in Valencia, Venezuela. If true, no incident in boxing’s sometimes-dark history is more tragic.
One aspect of this is his boxing career. No boxer on the planet is more thrilling to watch. Valero, who has knocked out all 27 of his opponents, has the ferocity of Roberto Duran and the power of Tommy Hearns. We drool over the prospect of a Valero-Manny Pacquiao fight.
The realistic possibility that he might never fight again is heartbreaking. What a waste of profound talent that would be.
However, none of that seems relevant when I think about that beautiful woman with the nice smile, who was only 24.
The signs were there.
In September, Valero, who has been treated for drug and alcohol addiction, was arrested for allegedly striking his mother and sister. The fighter and his mother later insisted that nothing happened.
Last month, he was arrested for allegedly harassing his wife and threatening a doctor and nurse at a hospital where she was treated for multiple injuries, including a punctured lung and broken ribs. Valero, whose attorney said she fell down a flight of stairs, agreed to rehab for his addictions and anger issues.
I don’t know whether Venezuelan officials had the authority to take stronger measures but Viera might alive today if they had.
She apparently was stabbed three times, after which Valero reportedly told a hotel security guard what he had done and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.
Reuters reported: “At 5.30 in the morning (on Sunday), the boxer came down to reception and communicated to security staff what he had done inside the room,” police commissioner Wilmer Flores Trosel told reporters.
Just like that, a life has ended, two young children have lost their mother and probably their father, and one of the most-gifted boxers in the world might never again step into a ring.
The boxing world was devastated by the untimely deaths of Alexis Arguello, Vernon Forrest and Arturo Gatti last year. Somehow, perhaps because a young woman is the victim, this seems worse.
“His career inside the ring was on its way up,” Top Rank official Carl Moretti told the New York Daily News. “Maybe he was headed to a potential fight with Manny Pacquiao. But more importantly, issues outside the ring we're bringing him down.
“When you have someone who's dealing with demons, it keeps going until something like this eventually happens.”
Sad but true.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]