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Oscar Valdez showed a new side to him: Weekend Review

Photo by German Villansenor
24
Apr

BIGGEST WINNER

Oscar Valdez: We knew Valdez was good. Now we know how tough he is.

The featherweight titleholder from Mexico is used to having his way with his opponents, as one dominating performance after another has demonstrated. He learned quickly against Miguel Marriaga that Saturday wasn’t going to be one of those nights.

Valdez had trouble landing cleanly against Marriaga early in their fight and when he did land Marriaga absorbed his best shots and kept charging, which forced Valdez to adjust and dig deeper within himself than he had to in past.

Photo / Mikey Williams-Top Rank

Instead of imposing his will, Valdez boxed more patiently than he normally does, which gave Marriaga trouble. And when Valdez found openings, he fired off hard, accurate shots that took a toll on the Colombian challenger.

Finally, by the late rounds, Valdez proved he was the better and stronger fighter, punctuating his effort by putting Marriaga down with a left hand in Round 10.

Valdez won the fight by one-sided scores of 119-108, 118-109 and 116-111 (I had it 116-111) but it was competitive and taxing. Marriaga is a rough character, which forced Valdez to work painfully hard and find new ways to win.

The fact he did says a lot about him. He was smart, resilient, a more complete fighter than we’ve seen in the past.

Was Valdez perfect? No. I would like to see him fight behind his jab more than he does. And I think he should throw more combinations, as opposed to the single right hands he likes to unload.

That said, I think he proved against Marriaga in Carson, California, that he might be even better than we thought he was.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

Poor Andre Berto. I thought the 33-year-old former two-time welterweight titleholder showed he could still fight but he was overwhelmed by Shawn Porter’s suffocating pressure on Saturday in Brooklyn. And a series of head butts only made things worse. Both fighters were bloodied but Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs) seemed to cope better with the clashes, which left Berto discombobulated. The fight was ugly, brutal but somehow entertaining. Porter, who won by a ninth-round TKO, demonstrated that he remains a threat to anyone at 147 pounds in his first fight since losing to Keith Thurman last June. Berto (31-5, 24 KOs) is still reasonably capable but it will be difficult for him to bounce back from that kind of war. … Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) looked terrific in the first defense of his junior middleweight title on the Porter-Berto card, a sixth-round knockout of Charles Hatley (26-2-1, 18 KOs). Charlo controlled the fight with his jab and power rights, one of which ended the fight in brutal fashion. Hatley looked out of his element, as if he didn’t belong in a title fight. And he probably didn’t given the fact he hasn’t had an eye-catching victory and hadn’t been in the ring in 17 months. … Gilberto Ramirez (35-0, 24 KOs) looked pretty good in his return from a hand injury on the Valdez-Marriaga card. The super middleweight titleholder outboxed and outworked a reluctant Max Bursak (33-5-1, 15 KOs), who lost two points because of excessive holding. I don’t see anything special about Ramirez – he’s a good, well-trained fighter with limited punching power – but he continues to win, which is what it’s all about. I look forward to seeing how he fares against better opposition. …

Photo / Mikey Williams-Top Rank

Junior featherweight titleholder Jessie Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs) made a strong statement by stopping Adeilson Dos Santos (18-3, 14 KOs) late in the second round on the Valdez-Marriaga card. Magdaleno was quick, efficient and powerful. He put Dos Santos down with a right to the temple late in the final round, hurting him badly. The Brazilian got up but Magdaleno knocked him down again, ending the fight. Referee Lou Moret probably acted too quickly – Dos Santos seemed to be strong enough to continue – but I think the writing was on the wall. … Former U.S. Olympian Shakur Stevenson looked sharp in his pro debut on the Valdez-Marriaga card as he defeated Edgar Brito (3-3-1, 2 KOs) by a six-round technical decision. Stevenson’s unusual boxing skills were clearly evident. I wonder about his punching power and his hands – he seemed to injure or possibly reinjure his left hand in the fight – but he obviously has a bright future. … Brian Kenny did a excellent job as the blow-by-blow commentator for the Valdez-Marriaga card. Smart, knowledgeable, clear and entertaining. He has it all. I wish he did more boxing. … Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22 KOs) is an intriguing middleweight contender. “Mini Mike Tyson” – emphasis on “Mini” – is only 5 feet 4 inches, which is tiny for a 160-pounder. But that wasn’t a problem against Tommy Langford (18-1, 6 KOs) on Saturday in Leicester, England. Khurtsidze, from the country of Georgia, stopped Langford with a single big left hand in the fifth round. That earned Khurtsidze a fight with unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders in July, which will give us a better idea about Khurtsidze’s potential. …

Two good young fighters had their mettle tested on a card Friday in Verona, New York. First, unbeaten welterweight Rashidi Ellis (18-0, 12 KOs) gutted out a majority-decision victory over John Karl Sosa (13-3, 6 KOs), who was surprisingly tough after an 11-month layoff and the fact he had lost his previous two fights. Ellis has a lot of work to do. Then, Michael Perez (25-2-2, 11 KOs) had all he could handle in a split-decision victory over Marcelino Lopez (32-2-1, 17 KOs) in the main event. Perez is good. I suspect he’ll learn from that fight and look even better next time out.

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