Oscar Valdez poised to fulfill world title dream
Oscar Valdez is ready to make his move.
The 25-year-old has all the tools to become one of the more recognizable names in the sport. He’s a two-time Olympian from Mexico who speaks fluent English and currently has an unbeaten record of 19-0 with 17 of those victories coming by way of knockout.
By all means, he should be on the fast track to stardom. However, he’s been patiently waiting for his time to shine and he’ll get his first opportunity to become a world champion when he faces Matias Adrian Rueda (26-0, 23 knockouts) for the WBO featherweight title that Vasyl Lomachenko vacated on the undercard of the July 23 pay-per-view clash between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol.
For all of his patience, he’s earned an opportunity at the spotlight and could be well on his way if he puts together yet another exceptional performance on Saturday night. But that’s almost expected of Valdez these days.
Representing his country on two occasions at the Olympic games – and the only Mexican to ever accomplish the feat twice – certainly won him a following in Mexico. His performances once he decided to turn pro in 2012 have been a mix of deft boxing and exciting brawling. Those that choose to stand in front of Valdez get put down. In his last outing, he ran roughshod over previously unbeaten Evgeny Gradovich and scored a fourth-round knockout back in April on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley fight in Vegas. He raised a few more eyebrows then.
Winning a world title on Saturday would inch him even closer to the recognition he rightfully deserves.
“I’m living every moment and enjoying every day,” said Valdez, who is rated No. 8 at 126 pounds by THE RING, at Thursday’s undercard press conference. “Ever since I was a kid I dreamed about getting the WBO belt and I’m very close to achieving it.”
He has lived up to the hype after being part of a 2012 Olympic class that signed with Top Rank along with Felix Verdejo and Jose Ramirez. Winning a world title would be validation.
In Rueda, Valdez finds an opponent who is also unbeaten but hasn’t fought any recognizable names. Rueda promises to become Argentina’s next superstar with a victory but he has a hell of a task against a fighter just hitting his prime and has shared a ring with some of boxing’s best. Back in 2009, Valdez lost in the World Amateur Championships to Lomachenko, who many think is the greatest amateur fighter of all time. If he could share a ring with Lomachenko, Rueda won’t be much of an issue. He’s certainly not overlooking him, but you had better believe that Valdez isn’t going allow Rueda to defer his dream.
“I have nothing but respect for Rueda but when we get in the ring we’re going to try and knock each other’s heads off,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to bring the belt back to Mexico.”
He has the opportunity to make a statement on Saturday and continue his quest to become one of boxing’s next wave of superstars.