Oscar Valdez overcomes knockdown, stops Adam Lopez in 130-pound debut
Oscar Valdez’s debut at 130 pounds almost went awry Saturday night.
In a thrilling fight, Valdez had rally from a deficit on the scorecards, overcoming a knockdown early against late-sub Adam Lopez to win by knockout in round seven inside the Chelsea Ballroom at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Valdez, a former WBO featherweight titleholder, improves to 27-0 (21 knockouts) with the victory.
The 28-year-old Valdez was originally scheduled to fight Andres Gutierrez, but the fighter from Guadalajara, Mexico weighed in at 141 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in. Valdez made weight at 129.8 pounds.
The Valdez-Gutierrez was immediately cancelled, and with the fight card taking place a day later, finding an opponent looked very bleak, especially with the card falling on a Thanksgiving Day weekend. Lopez, who was scheduled to face Luis Coria in preliminary action in a featherweight bout, immediately took the fight when approached by Top Rank officials.
On paper, Lopez was taking a significant step-up in opposition, but the featherweight prospect, who stopped Jean Carlos Rivera in his last bout on May 25, fought like a savvy veteran. Lopez is the son of former world junior welterweight title challenger Hector Lopez.
After a feeling-out opening round, Lopez asserted himself well during the second round. With less than a minute left in the round, Lopez dropped Valdez to the canvas with a left hook to the chin. Valdez beat the count, looking more embarrassed than hurt from the knockdown.
“I was very surprised,” said Valdez after the fight. “I take my hat off to Adam Lopez. He’s a great fighter, great warrior, just like his father was. I just got hit. This is boxing. I prepared myself for two, three months for Gutierrez, but that’s no excuse. This kid is a warrior.”
As the bout progressed, Lopez gained confidence, outboxing Valdez during several exchanges. Valdez was relegated to throwing one or two-punch combinations as Lopez utilized angles and kept his distance, countering when he saw openings.
Sensing he was down on the scorecards, Valdez was more on the attack in round seven. The tactic paid off as he hurt Lopez midway through the round with a left hook to the head. Moments later, a barrage of punches dropped Lopez against the ropes. Lopez beat the count, fighting back bravely, but was stunned again by another combination to the head. Valdez went in for the kill, throwing a series of hooks and crosses that prompted referee Russell Mora to step in and stop the bout at 2:53.
At the time of the stoppage, Valdez was up on two judges’ scorecards, 57-56 and 58-55. Lopez was winning 57-56 on the third judge’s scorecard.
Punch Stat numbers showed a very competitive and even fight. Valdez threw 330 total punches, connecting on 91 of them (28 percent). Lopez landed 92 of 436 punches (21 percent).
“My experience made me win the fight,” said Valdez, who is managed by Frank Espinoza. “I have a great amateur background and a lot more experience than him, and I think that’s what made me win the fight.”
There is talk that Valdez’s next fight will be against WBC junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Berchelt, who was sitting at ringside. The fight would likely take place in the spring of next year, but Valdez is eager to face him.”
“Berchelt is a true champion inside the ring and outside the ring. Fans love him. That’s the one I want to fight. He has that WBC belt, and he’s trying to take it back home.”
Lopez (13-2, 6 KOs), who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, was humble in defeat.
“He hurt me, but I was fine,” said Lopez, who is trained by Buddy McGirt. “I was blocking shots. I think he caught me one time, and the referee stopped it. I think I would’ve have been fine if I would’ve finished the round. I would’ve come back. I think I was up on the scorecards, and it’s just a shame, but this is boxing. I can’t do nothing about it, but I would love a rematch with Oscar. He’s a true fighter. I’m not a 130-pounder, but I’m a real fighter as well.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing