Miguel Berchelt talks of current and future plans
Miguel Berchelt has the resume to make a claim as the world’s best junior lightweight. Berchelt has the WBC belt, lost once as a pro, and has defeated some of the best 130-pounders.
Berchelt wants more. His ambitions are to unify the stacked 130-pound class or winning a world lightweight title.
In the meantime, Berchelt (37-1, 33 knockouts) will remain active, squaring off against Eleazar Valenzuela (21-13-4, 16 KOs) Saturday night at the TV Azteca Studios in Mexico City in a 10-round, stay-busy bout on ESPN (11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT).
In his last bout, on December 20, Valenzuela, of Guasave, Mexico, suffered a second-round stoppage to Miguel Angel Parra. He has fought China’s Zou Shiming in 2013, and most recently lightweight title challenger Jono Carroll and junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda.
“My fight against Valenzuela will be at 135 pounds,” said Berchelt, rated No. 1 by The Ring at 130. “I would like to have had another title defense, but boxing stopped because of the (COVID-19) pandemic.”
In his last bout, Berchelt, who resides in Merida, Mexico, battered former world titleholder Jason Sosa, dropping him multiple times before the fight was stopped in the fourth on November 2 in Carson, California. The Sosa victory was Berchelt’s fifth-consecutive knockout and sixth successful title defense.
A victory over Valenzuela could put Berchelt in a position to face former WBO featherweight titleholder and junior lightweight contender Oscar Valdez later this year in an all-Mexico clash. Valdez, who is Berchelt’s WBC mandatory challenger, does have to get by Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez on July 21 in Las Vegas.
Berchelt hopes that fight will be made.
“It would be a great fight,” said Berchelt, who is co-promoted by Zanfer Promotions and Top Rank. “Oscar Valdez is a great fighter who accomplished a lot at 126 pounds and wants to make a name for himself now at 130. It’s a great fight. A Mexican war. I think the fight could be similar to what Marco Antonio Barrera did. A fight of this magnitude belongs in Las Vegas. I know a crowd will arrive from Los Angeles, Southern California, and Sonora, Mexico.
“I wouldn’t even mind if I ended up fighting titleholder (WBA titleholder) Leo Santa Cruz. I think that I’ve faced the best available defenders in the sport.”
Berchelt has victories over Takashi Miura and Miguel Roman, along with two knockout wins over Francisco Vargas. They are or once were in The Ring’s 130-pound top-10.
As much as he would like to unify the weight class by fighting WBO titleholder Jamel Herring and newly-crowned Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz, Berchelt does not have a preference which titleholder he faces.
“I’ve always thought the WBC is the best and most prestigious of all the belts,” he said. “So many great fighters have had that belt wrapped around their waist, including Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson. It’s always been a dream of mine as a kid to win and defend that title. It’s not that I don’t like the other belts. I just believe that WBC title has more prestige.”
Who knows how much longer Berchelt will remain at 130 pounds?
If there are no opportunities to unify, Berchelt has said a move to lightweight is an option. He didn’t rule out the possibility at 140 pounds, either. Whatever Berchelt decides, he believes he can continue growing his brand.
“Some fighters who become world champion do not know how to balance between working to defend a title and enjoying life,” he said. “They live a fast life and their careers are cut short. I still have dreams and goals. One dream I had as a boy was to own a house. Now I own two. I want to fulfill my goals as a fighter and as a person, whether that’s unifying a weight class or moving up to 135 pounds, winning a world title (or) even moving up and competing as a junior welterweight.
“Little by little, I’m fulfilling my goals. I’m still working hard in this sport.”
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. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.