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Fight Picks: Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez

Berchelt (right) tags Miguel Roman.
17
Feb

On Saturday, big-punching Miguel Berchelt will defend the WBC junior lightweight title for the seventh time against former WBO featherweight beltholder Oscar Valdez inside The Bubble at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas.

The eagerly anticipated all-Mexican matchup will be broadcast on ESPN (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT).

Berchelt, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 130-pounds, became WBC junior lightweight titleholder by stopping Francisco Vargas (KO 11) in January 2017. The big punching Mexican has since tallied six defenses, notably besting former titleholder Takashi Miura (UD 12), Miguel Roman (TKO 9), Vargas (RTD 6) and, most recently, Jason Sosa (KO 4).

Valdez was a standout amateur that represented Mexico at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He won bronze at the 2009 World Championships. Valdez won his first 20 professional outings before claiming the vacant WBO featherweight title against little known Matias Rueda in two rounds. Six defenses followed against the likes of Miguel Marriaga (UD 12) and Scott Quigg (UD 12). The 30-year-old Mexican out-grew the division and vacated to seek newer, bigger challenges.

On paper, this is the biggest test of both fighter’s careers. Berchelt (37-1, 33 knockouts) is naturally the bigger, more powerful man. How will Valdez off-set those physical disadvantages? Will Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) be able to use his speed and skills or get dragged into a war? Both have fought since the restart last summer, but Valdez has previously appeared inside The Bubble. Will that aid him at all?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Berchelt as a 2/7 (-350) favorite, while Valdez is priced at 13/5 (+260); the draw is 16/1 (+1600).

Here’s how the experts see it: 

THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM

TOM GRAY: BERCHELT UD 12

“I’m so tempted to pick Valdez, because I think he has superior skills, and he’s working with one of the finest trainers in the game. I just can’t get the image of the two together out of my head. Berchelt, who, granted, wasn’t in fighting shape, absolutely dwarfed his friendly rival and it was like a ‘wow moment’ for me. I think Valdez gets off to a great start, but Berchelt’s strength ultimately drains his resources and the champ retains on a close decision.”

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: BERCHELT UD

“This looks like an excellent all-action match up on paper. Both guys know each other and are cordial. However, when two Mexicans with local bragging rights on the line collide you can expect fireworks. Both fighters like to get involved and I expect this to be a back-and-forth war of attrition. Valdez is the more skilled of the two, but Berchelt is the naturally bigger and more powerful puncher. He’s been in excellent form and long wanted a big fight. He finally has it against Valdez, who will be seeking to become a two-division titlist. Since moving up to 130, Valdez has looked so-so. He’ll have to improve against Berchelt. I expect both to take a look at each other early and then it’ll heat up and develop into an excellent fight with both men having their successes. I feel Berchelt’s size will play a part and he’ll either wear down Valdez for a late stoppage or win a competitive, but clear unanimous decision.”

LEE GROVES: BERCHELT TKO 10

“If Valdez is to dethrone Berchelt, he will need to slow the pace to a more comfortable level, or go punch-for-punch and hope that one of his bombs will dent a chin that yielded a shocking first-round KO loss to Luis Eduardo Florez in March 2014, the champion’s only loss to date. That said, Berchelt has been an offensive juggernaut who has overwhelmed his opponents with volume and power, and while Valdez is skilled. I don’t think he will be able to keep up should Berchelt find his groove. If that groove extends over several rounds, Berchelt will get the stoppage.”

MICHAEL WOODS: BERCHELT TKO 10

“Too damn strong, too stubborn, too fresh. To the winner’s circle goes Berchelt over Valdez, and yes, it will come via stoppage, and there will be fireworks, guaranteed. No fizzle-out, this will be a violent confrontation and look for Berchelt to get a late-round TKO.”

MARTY MULCAHY: BERCHELT UD

“While I can’t be certain which boxer’s arm will be raised in victory, I am sure the fans will come out the winner in this fantastic matchup. I expect consistent two-way action, with Berchelt steadily gaining momentum and applying crippling pressure on the naturally smaller Valdez as the rounds ratchet up. Valdez is the more accurate puncher, but will not be able to create the space needed for his punches as Berchelt smothers opportunities with his volume. A mid-round rally by Valdez will give his backers hope, but Berchelt scores a knockdown to put the brakes on it and romps to a comfortable unanimous decision win over a brave-but-outgunned Valdez.”

MICHAEL MONTERO: VALDEZ PTS

“Most are favoring Berchelt to defeat Valdez, and I understand why. ‘El Alacran’ is the longer man and he’s faced the stronger opposition. However, I feel that many are overlooking Valdez’ amateur experience (fought in two Olympics, multiple World Championships, and briefly in the World Series of Boxing). And I just can’t bet against a fighter training with Eddy Reynoso right now. I’m gonna go against the grain and take Valdez by points.”

NORM FRAUENHEIM: BERCHELT TKO 9

“Expect a brawl. Friendly it won’t be, even though Berchelt and Oscar Valdez have been friends since their amateur days. At its best, the bout looks as if it could be another chapter, the latest, in a Mexican tradition built on blood and guts. Both know the tradition. And both are anxious to live up to it. The question is how much more blood Valdez can give. The guts are there. Always have been. But the ex-featherweight champ’s willingness to brawl will get him in trouble against the bigger and stronger Berchelt in a junior lightweight bout. Berchelt’s power will punish early and prevail late.”

BOXING INSIDERS

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): BERCHELT TKO 9

“Berchelt-Valdez won’t be as competitive as some might think. Berchelt has too much of everything for Valdez, whose best days are clearly behind him. Berchelt with 33 KOs in 37 outings speaks for itself, this guy knows how to close the show. I simply cannot make a case for Valdez winning. Berchelt wins inside nine rounds. I can’t wait for Berchelt to jump up to the lightweight division.”

JAMEL HERRING (WBO JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): BERCHELT KO

“I like the fight as a fan. You have to lean toward the bigger, stronger guy, which is Miguel Berchelt but you can’t count Oscar Valdez out. Every time we’ve seen him hurt or put down; he gets back up. Plus, he has he a great team behind him in Eddy Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez pushing him. I’m interested to see what they see in this fight that they expose in Miguel Berchelt. I think Miguel Berchelt will come out as the winner probably by KO.”

MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): BERCHELT TKO 6

“Although at first sight I see Miguel Berchelt winning this dual, Oscar Valdez cannot be underestimated. He is now an experienced boxer with an interesting pro record and I learned throughout the years to never underestimate a boxer who has an amateur record like his. For this fight, it will be interesting to see the energy level of Berchelt after having suffered from COVID at the end of 2020 since he likes to throw a lot and put on pressure. As for Valdez, everyone has been a bit disappointed with his last performances and it seems to want to change the way he boxes at a very crucial time in his career. Also, his adjustment to the junior lightweight division has been harder than anticipated. There are many unanswered questions for Valdez. Berchelt may not be the best guy in which to try out new stuff. I see Berchelt overwhelming Valdez with his punch and finally stopping him. Berchelt TKO 6.”

JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): BERCHELT TKO 10

“My pick is based on one thing and one thing only, I feel that Berchelt is the hungrier fighter and is your old school throwback type that will find a way to win. Miguel Berchelt TKO 10.”

ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER, GOLDEN BOY): DRAW
“Very excited as a fan of boxing and a fan of both for this fight. This has a potential of being a modern-day classic like Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Erik Morales and Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez. You have two very talented and well-prepared Mexican champions. I see a very tactical fight in the first half, but second half a war can break out. This is a very close fight as they are both that good. The only guarantee is the fans will be rewarded with a great fight. I see it coming down to the last two rounds, and in the end, I see a very entertaining finish for a draw. Guess we may see it again.”

STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): BERCHELT PTS

“This is a tough one to pick. Berchelt is proven against a tougher level of opposition, but Valdez has more dimensions since switching trainers. In an action fight, I’ll go with the indefatigable Berchelt by close decision.”

JOEL DIAZ (TRAINER): BERCHELT KO

“Berchelt is a strong fighter, he only gets stronger as the fight progresses. He’s a strong, non-stop fighter. Valdez is a small fighter and has not looked good in his last two fights. He hasn’t been the same after he got his jaw broken. I see Berchelt winning by KO in the later rounds.”

RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): BERCHELT TKO 8

“I believe this fight will be and all-out Mexican war. It’s not best that Valdez comes forward, but his style of fighting and pride will force him into a toe-to-toe battle with Berchelt. The bigger, stronger Berchelt will wear Valdez down by TKO round eight.”

CAMERON DUNKIN (PROMOTER, D&D BOXING): BERCHELT TKO 9
“It could be a great fight. Berchelt has the distance, reach and can punch. It’s a very good fight early, but I think Berchelt knocks him out in the ninth or 10th.”

BRIAN VILORIA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/TRAINER): BERCHELT TKO

“I feel like this is one of the fights I’ve been looking forward to watching. I think Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez is going to be a classic fight, down the Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales route. I just feel Berchelt has the edge. It’s not going to be easy for him, but his size and length is going to be too much of a problem for Valdez. I don’t think Valdez’ power is enough to keep Berchelt off him. I think Berchelt is going to be pushing him throughout the whole fight, using his reach and his heavy hands are going to wear Valdez down. We’ve seen Valdez hit the ground against guys not really known for their power. I think Berchelt has that pop in his hands, which is going to give Valdez problems. At the end of the night, Berchelt might knock Valdez out in about nine or 10 rounds.”

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): BERCHELT KO 8

“Two Mexicans who dare to be great. Both hungry. The bell rings and it’s on. They want to leave no doubt as to who’s the best. I see an exciting fight. But Berchelt being the bigger, younger and stronger of the two takes control of the fight and dominates the rounds. Valdez trying to box, realizes that’s not who he is, turns it up and they fight leaving all strategies aside. Berchelt, who’s fighting in his division ,will be too strong for Valdez and will stop him within eight rounds. Both styles are made for each other, just can’t see this not being a candidate for fight of the year. Berchelt by KO within eight rounds.”

WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD TITLEHOLDER/ TRAINER): BERCHELT TKO 5

“If you like knockdowns and knockouts this fight should bring one or two. Both guys like to go for the KO so this fight should be exciting. They fight inside, throwing digging shots to the body and left hooks and straight rights to the head. Valdez made a half dozen defenses of his featherweight belt but is now at a weight where he could be stronger. Berchelt has, more or less, been a super featherweight throughout his career so he is comfortable at this weight. I think they will hurt each other and might even have a few knockdowns. I love Valdez, but I think Berchelt might have a little too much in the power department. However, I could be wrong. If Berchelt does have too much power for his opponent, I think he might hurt Valdez and force a stoppage-win around the fifth. The fight can be won by either guy, so it should not be missed.”

VICTOR SILVA (TV ANALYST): BERCHELT KO 9

“Oscar Valdez is a very experienced fighter, Olympic participant in 2008 and 2012, undefeated, strong, and with a tough mindset. Miguel ‘Alacran’ Berchelt is three-time national champion, he lost one, but currently, he is one of the most solid champions in the world and he has an issue to solve, he didn’t represent Mexico in the Olympic games because of Valdez. Berchelt is a natural and even tall junior lightweight. Valdez is coming from featherweight. I would say Berchelt will win by KO in the ninth.”

Final Tally: Berchelt 18-1-1

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

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