Oscar Valdez to make WBO featherweight title defense against Jason Sanchez
WBO featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez will defend his world title belt against unbeaten Jason Sanchez on June 8, Top Rank announced.
The 12-round bout will take place at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.
Also fighting on the card will be a 10-round light heavyweight bout between Sullivan Barrera, who recently signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, and Michael Seals.
Opening the three-bout ‘Top Rank on ESPN’ telecast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT) will be Gabriel Flores in a scheduled six-round bout.
Valdez (25-0, 20 KOs), who resides in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, will be making the sixth defense of his world title against Sanchez. In his last bout on Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas, Valdez dropped Italy’s Carmine Tommasone four times en route to a seventh-round knockout victory.
The Tommasone fight was his first since Mar. 10 of last year, when he won a hard-fought 12-round decision over Scott Quigg, a fight where he suffered a fractured jaw. The Feb. 2 fight also marked Valdez’s first with trainer Eddy Reynoso.
The 28-year-old Valdez was originally scheduled to fight once-beaten Erick Ituarte of Santa Ana, California, but the WBO did not approve the fight.
“I’m excited to be back in the ring for the sixth defense of my world title,” said Valdez, who is managed by Frank Espinoza. “I know there is a big target on my back because I’m the champion, but nobody is going to take this title away from me.”
“This will be my second fight training with Eddy Reynoso. Training with Eddy, I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I felt great in the ring during my first fight with Eddy in my corner. I know that I will look even better this time out. The fans in Reno and watching on ESPN and ESPN Deportes can expect a great showing from me on June 8.”
Sanchez (14-0, 7 KOs), who resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, notched the biggest win of his career thus far when he defeated highly-touted Jean Carlos Rivera by unanimous decision on Oct. 31. The 24-year-old Sanchez also fought on Feb. 2 card in Frisco, stopping veteran Daniel Olea in the second round.
Sanchez understands he is the underdog but believes he can continue riding the momentum in recent fights to defeat Valdez and will derive strength and fortitude from the memory of his late brother.
“I am truly honored and blessed to have an opportunity like this,” said Sanchez. “Come from Albuquerque, New Mexico, I knew I had to work extra hard to be noticed and to get where I’m at right now. I will be bringing this belt home to Albuquerque, to my family, my supporters, and most of all, my late brother Alan Sanchez. I believe he guided me down this road and that my journey is only beginning.”
Sanchez is ranked No. 14 by the WBO.
Barrera (22-2, 14 KOs), who resides in Miami, last fought on Nov. 3, defeating Sean Monaghan by unanimous decision. The fight also marked his final bout with Main Events.
The 37-year-old Barrera has won five of his last six fights, including wins over Joe Smith and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy with the only blemish on his record coming at the hands of WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol.
“I am very excited to have signed with Top Rank, a world-class organization with the best light heavyweights in the world,” said Barrera. “I am excited about the future, but the first step is to handle business June 8 and then I can look forward to a shot at a world title. My ultimate goal is (WBO titleholder) Sergey Kovalev. I’ve been chasing him my whole career. Hopefully, we can finally fight this year.”
Seals (22-2, 17 KOs), a former linebacker at the Alabama A&M University, has won his last two bouts since losing by disqualification on Michael Gbenga on May 25. His other loss was a knockout Edwin Rodriguez in an action bout in November of 2015.
Flores (13-0, 6 KOs) knocked out Brazil’s Eduardo Pereira in round three this past Saturday night in his hometown of Stockton, California before a crowd of over 10,000.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing