Ricardo Espinoza: I’m prepared for war versus Brandon Valdes
Ricardo Espinoza was less than a round away from fighting for a major title but his bravado got the better of him.
Espinoza is now confident fighting in a new weight class and learning from that mistake will help create a winning recipe, which could lead to fights on bigger platforms, including a new title opportunity.
The hard-hitting Espinoza will face unbeaten Brandon Valdes, Friday night, at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida. The 10-round bout will air live on Telemundo (12 a.m/9 p.m. PT).
The Espinoza-Valdes fight, which will have no fans in attendance, will commence the “Boxeo Telemundo’” summer series. All Star Boxing had to postpone its spring series in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Espinoza (24-3, 21 knockouts) most recently fought on December 13 in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, knocking out Andres Garcia Guzman in the opening round. The fight took place less than eight months after his all-out war against John Riel Casimero, which was the walkout bout on a Premier Boxing Champions card on April 20. Espinoza had overcome a knockdown in Round 6 and had rallied to win many of the later rounds.
Entering the final round, each fighter was up 105-103 on two judges’ scorecards while the third judge had the fight scored 104-104. Moments into round 12, Casimero hurt Espinoza, eventually forcing referee Rudy Barragan to step in and stop the fight after Espinoza was unable to defend himself.
Casimero would fight Zolani Tete on November 30, stopping him in Round 3 to win the WBO bantamweight title.
“I forgot to maintain my composure at that point in the fight,” Espinoza told The Ring, Tuesday afternoon. “In the last round, I shouldn’t have stood toe-to-toe with him. It was my fight to win. I should’ve just boxed during the final round. I felt superior. I was winning the fight. There was a punch that I didn’t see and that what was hurt me and I lost the fight.”
Espinoza, who is trained by Pedro Moran, decided to move up to 122 pounds. He will face a younger and unbeaten fighter in Valdes (13-0, 7 KOs), who will be taking a major step up in class.
Despite Valdes being trained by Manny Robles, Espinoza believes he has the experience and pedigree to defeat him and make a statement to the other fighters in the junior featherweight division.
“Brandon is an undefeated fighter and has not lost,” said Espinoza, who is promoted by All Star Boxing. “I also fought an unbeaten fighter (Yeison Vargas) and won. I don’t look at numbers. I expect a hard fight. I prepared for a fight that will go the distance or end in a knockout. I’ll take a win, however it comes. I’m prepared for war.
“I’m happy to now fight at 122 pounds. I feel physically and mentally stronger. I felt weight-drained trying to make 118 pounds. My body has adapted well to the new weight. My stature was big anyway as a bantamweight and I have the strength to keep up with those fighters at 122 pounds.”
The hard-hitting Espinoza has a penchant for ending fights early. Prior to the loss to Casimero, Espinoza had knocked out his previous 10 opponents.
Even though he enjoys the thrill of winning by knockout, the 23-year-old states he can also win fights with an improving skill set. He wants to prove he can outbox any opponent.
“All the fighters think I’m a one-punch fighter,” said Espinoza, who has been sparring with former world title challenger Rafael Rivera. “I work hard in the gym. I can change the fight with one punch but I do have the conditioning to fight a bout in its entirety. I can throw effective combinations and I have the technique and speed to outbox opponents.
While Espinoza is hoping to contend at 122 pounds, he is planning a life after boxing. He is a student at La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Tijuana, majoring in Business Administration.
With three semesters left in completing his education, Espinoza would like to get the most out of boxing before hanging up the gloves for good and permanently wearing a suit and tie. Espinoza is confident that he won’t simply make modest money to help his family, whom currently financially support him, but one day contend for a world title.
“This fight (against Valdes) is important and I’m taking it very seriously. The doors in boxing close if I lose the fight.
“I think winning this fight would put me in the Top-10 with the sanctioning bodies. I feel prepared and am willing to face any of the top fighters or beltholders in the division. I prepared mentally and physically for Valdes. When I beat him, then I will think about the other fighters I would like to face.”
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 (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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