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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Oscar Valdez conquers Miguel Berchelt, Avanesyan-Kelly)

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
22
Feb

BRUTAL KO

Hey Dougie, hope you and yours are well?

After the brutal fight with Scott Quigg, where he broke his jaw, there were no questions about the heart and toughness of Oscar Valdez. I think he had to have his jaw wired back together afterwards yet continued to fight. However, I did question whether Miguel Berchelt at 130 would be a step to far. I will never question Valdez again. I think it’s safe to call off the ‘KO of the year’ poll, we have a winner. No one is topping that. Probably stating the obvious, but I think few would argue Eddy Reynoso being a clear frontrunner for trainer of the year too.

David Avanesyan-Josh Kelly went exactly as expected. With all the dropping of his hands, showboating and admiring his work, it was only a matter of time before someone punished him for it. Looks like there is an issue with his engine too. I do think he deserves credit for taking the fight, though. Not many prospects would take on Avanesyan in just their 12th fight. David is an experienced 12-round fighter, whereas Kelly gassed after only a few rounds.

Keep up the great work and stay safe. – ChrisM, UK

David Avanesyan too hot for Josh Kelly. Photo by Mark Robinson

Avanesyan is a solid veteran. We can view him as a fringe contender (just outside of the top 10) or a gatekeeper (and I’d say he’s every bit as reliable as Josesito Lopez), but whoever shares the ring with him better be prepared for a hard fight. I’m sure Kelly was prepared to shine, but he simply wasn’t ready to grind.

I was in Madison Square Garden for his first pro test, vs. Ray Robinson, on the Joshua-Ruiz I undercard in June 2019, and I thought Kelly was fortunate to escape with a draw that night. I know hindsight is 20-20, but I think that performance (vs. Robinson) was an indication that Kelly shouldn’t be rushed into world-level. Maybe he needed a good two or three year period of fighting often and gradually increasing the level of his opposition (instead of going for his first former titleholder, Carlos Molina, in his sixth pro bout).  

I was high on Kelly in 2017 (his debut year). I knew he was in with relatively soft opponents, but I enjoyed watching his athleticism at work, and I thought he was being brought along nicely. He fought five times in 2017, but then dropped to a three-bout-per-year schedule in 2018 and 2019. I know the pandemic is mostly to blame for his inactivity in 2020, but sitting out all year couldn’t have helped him going into his toughest pro assignment. I could be wrong, but I think Kelly also could have developed a more-effective ring identity with more activity. It seemed like he was emulating Vasiliy Lomachenko early on, and vs. Avanesyan, I thought he was trying his best to imitate Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s style. (There’s only one “Pretty Boy,” Josh).

But, as you stated, Kelly deserves respect for challenging himself. I hope he’s able to learn from this experience and comeback stronger and smarter. Props also to his trainer, Adam Booth, for knowing when to throw in the towel.

As for Avanesyan, he’s on a nice run since suffering the only stoppage loss of his career (vs. the Mean Machine in 2018) with the back-to-back stoppages of Kerman Lejarraga and now Kelly. I’d love to see him test the likes of Jaron Ennis or Rashidi Ellis, but my guess is that Eddie Hearn will get his Olympic champ, Daniyar Yeleussinov, a shot at Avanesyan’s European title before the Armenian-Russian takes on any young American guns.

Oscar Valdez vs. Scott Quigg. Photo credit: German Villasenor

After the brutal fight with Scott Quigg, where he broke his jaw, there were no questions about the heart and toughness of Oscar Valdez. I think he had to have his jaw wired back together afterwards yet continued to fight. Yep, Valdez is as tough and courageous as fighters come. However, that willingness to go to war with anyone had more than a few observers (myself included) thinking that the Mexican Olympian would burn out (and sooner rather than later). The punishing Quigg fight followed grueling 12-rounders vs. Miguel Marriaga and Genesis Servania. Abdicating the WBO featherweight title, moving up to 130 and joining Eddy Reynoso’s stable not only preserved Valdez’s career, it’s taken it to new heights with the Berchelt victory.

However, I did question whether Miguel Berchelt at 130 would be a step to far. How could anyone NOT question Valdez’s chances vs. Berchelt. The guy that struggled with Marriaga and Quigg, and was dropped by Servania and Adam Lopez, does not beat El Alacran. However, unfortunately for Berchelt, that’s the not the version of Valdez that stepped through the ropes on Saturday.

I will never question Valdez again. Sure you will. Doubting fighters is part of boxing. There are always bigger challenges for a fighter, and to Valdez’s credit, he seeks them out. But if he fights Shakur Stevenson next (or sometime this year), guess what? The majority of fans and media are going with the young uber-talent from Newark.

I think it’s safe to call off the ‘KO of the year’ poll, we have a winner. That one is going to be hard to beat. It made us all jump our of our seats and almost immediately gave us cause for grave concern, it was a roller-coaster of emotions.

Probably stating the obvious, but I think few would argue Eddy Reynoso being a clear frontrunner for trainer of the year too. Five or six years ago a frustrated Eddy told anyone who would listen that he was overlooked and disrespected (especially by the U.S. boxing media) and would never be awarded Trainer of the Year. Those days are over. Like his fighters, he’s earning his respect and stature in the game.

 

WHAT A FIGHT!

Hey Doug,

My God what a great fight. What a beautiful performance from Valdez, what courage from Berchelt. I played it conservative and picked Berchelt but I had a sneaky suspicion about Valdez. I’ll take more risks in the future.

Assuming the Canelo fights go as planned, Eddy Reynoso may have already secured yet another trainer of the year award. I hope Berchelt is ok, and Valdez I think has more than proven that’s he’s right there with anyone at 130. The question is how will he do against someone with a little more defense.

What do you think is next for the two of them? Best to you and the family. – Graham, Sonoma

Miguel Berchelt lands an uppercut against Francisco Vargas during their rematch in Tucson, Arizona. Photo by Mikey Williams-TOP RANK

I think Valdez will target the Jamel Herring-Carl Frampton winner for a unification showdown and then go for Shakur Stevenson. Berchelt needs a long break, and when he returns, I’m pretty sure his handlers will put him in soft for a bout or two. I think he’s going to toss his hat into the crowded 135-pound arena once he gets his confidence back and I don’t think it will take long for the WBC to rank him at lightweight. (Berchelt’s two-time victim Francisco Vargas is No. 4 in the WBC’s ratings for some reason… if an old “Bandito” can ranked that high fighting a couple nobodies, then Alacran might eventually be able to get a crack at the 135-pound green belt.)

My God what a great fight. Isn’t it awesome when a badass matchup on paper actually delivers in the ring? This is why they fight the fights and it’s why we watch.

What a beautiful performance from Valdez, what courage from Berchelt. That was hands down the best performance of Valdez’s career. I have no idea how Berchelt survived Round 4 and was able to get back on his stalking game in Rounds 5 (still on shaky legs), 6 and 7.

I played it conservative and picked Berchelt but I had a sneaky suspicion about Valdez. I’ll take more risks in the future. Are you talking about gambling? If not, who cares who you or anyone else picks? Let’s just enjoy the fights!

Assuming the Canelo fights go as planned, Eddy Reynoso may have already secured yet another trainer of the year award. He’s certainly got a great start to 2021.

I hope Berchelt is ok, and Valdez I think has more than proven that’s he’s right there with anyone at 130. He should be ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 (behind Tank Davis). Only time will tell what kind of impact this loss has on Berchelt, but I’ll be rooting for him.

The question is how will he do against someone with a little more defense. I’m sure that Herring, Stevenson, Joseph Diaz Jr., Tevin Farmer, Chris Colbert and O’Shaquie Foster are all chomping at the bit to answer that question.

 

VALDEZ PROVED US ALL WRONG

Hey Dougie,

I’d love to say I knew this was going to happen but I didn’t. After seeing how small Valdez looked against Quigg and how he got dropped a couple of fights ago, my thoughts were like most of the media predicted, Berchelt will be too much. What I failed to assess was the fact that I didn’t even look at Miguel’s weaknesses or analyze how Oscar could capitalize based on his strengths, but guess who did? Eddy Reynoso. What a great game-plan!

First that snappy counter jab, it was fast and strong and thrown with authority.  Then the switch hitting in the middle grounds. Finally the effective aggression, Oscar used every tool in the book when facing a bully and it paid off. I think Eddy’s makeover of Oscar was finally completed with this fight and its not really that but an evolution of what Oscar does best. I was really impressed with them.   Now on to the stoppage. I’m no referee, nor am I in the middle of the action to know when a fighter has had enough, but the look in Berchelt’s eyes between rounds was of a beaten, discouraged fighter that was mentally defeated. His corner failed to see this and it led to this horrible scary KO.  Yes it’s the KO of the year so far, but do we need another tragedy? He was eating everything. No head movement no defense. It was tough to watch. Hopefully nothing comes out bad out of this for Miguel. He’s a great warrior. Great weekend of fights. Enjoyed it a lot.

I also liked a lot of what I saw from Elvis Rodriguez. He showed a lot of patience against the rugged crafty Argentinian boxer and let us know that he’s not only a KO artist and can develop into a nice complete fighter.  These are the kind of fights that a guy needs to experience to be able to deal with higher level opposition later in his career. Good job, looking forward to watching this young Dominican fight again.

Thanks, and have a great week. – Juan Valverde, Chula Vista

E-Rod’s a stud. I thought he was a strong candidate for 2020 Prospect of the Year. He’ll be a legit 140-pound contender by the end of the year, and eventually, a player at 147.

I’d love to say I knew this was going to happen but I didn’t. Few did (although I’m sure as time goes on, more Armchair Eddie Futches on Twitter will claim that they predicted the exact time of the knockout in Round 10). Hey, give me credit for giving Valdez enough respect to predict that he might hurt or drop Berchelt in the early rounds! But, seriously, like most observers, I thought Berchelt would just be too big, strong and busy for Valdez to contain for 12 rounds.  

What I failed to assess was the fact that I didn’t even look at Miguel’s weaknesses or analyze how Oscar could capitalize based on his strengths, but guess who did? Eddy Reynoso. What a great game-plan! That’s why he’s the trainer and we’re the one watching the fights.

First that snappy counter jab, it was fast and strong and thrown with authority.  Then the switch hitting in the middle grounds. Finally the effective aggression, Oscar used every tool in the book when facing a bully and it paid off. Valdez jabbed and moved well throughout the fight. He’s got a shotgun jab for sure. It will serve him well vs. junior lightweights who can box a lot better than Berchelt.

I think Eddy’s makeover of Oscar was finally completed with this fight and it’s not really that but an evolution of what Oscar does best. Agree 100%. But the Valdez-Reynoso collaboration is a reminder that it takes TIME for trainers and boxers to gel and to being to show positive results in the ring.

Now on to the stoppage. I’m no referee, nor am I in the middle of the action to know when a fighter has had enough, but the look in Berchelt’s eyes between rounds was of a beaten, discouraged fighter that was mentally defeated. The fight could have been stopped at the end of Round 4. Having said that, even though Berchelt’s legs were not 100% under him, he earned the right to continue for at least a few rounds with his effort in Rounds 5, 6 and 7. But I thought his corner needed to consider keeping him on his stool after the seventh and each round after.

His corner failed to see this and it led to this horrible scary KO. Yeah, after the second knockdown they needed to look out for their fighter’s life and future, but most corners are just too emotionally involved. They’re not seeing what we see, which is why the referee and ringside physician are so important to fighter safety (and need to know when to stop a fight).

 

SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN STOPPED SOONER?

Hey Doug!

Hope you and your family are healthy and safe.

Just a quick question.

Do you think the Berchelt corner should’ve stopped the fight earlier? Even though he had some success in the 6th and 7th it seems like he never recuperated from the first knockdown…

What are your thoughts in regards to the Berchelt corner, do you think they could’ve prevented the brutal KO? Keep up the good work. – EC

They could have had they just kept their man on the stool after the eighth or ninth round. Berchelt was buzzed at the end of Round 7 and he was “sleep stalking” in following rounds. The second knockdown in Round 9 was the perfect time for either the ref to wave it off or for the corner to toss in the towel (or at least keep their man from leaving the corner for Round 10).

Berchelt’s trainer (Alfredo Caballero) also trains Juan Francisco Estrada. If my man Chocolatito is able to turn the clock back and put his vintage pressure and body head combos on El Gallo, round after round, when the junior bantamweight masters meet on March 13, I’m not confident that Alfredo will look out for Estrada’s health. Hopefully, for the sake of both champions, the Texas commission will appoint a competent referee to this showdown.

 

WHEN IS A ROBBERY A ROBBERY?

Morning Dougie (no idea what time it is over there but I’m usually writing these about 7 in the morning)

WOW! That was some performance by Valdez. His left hook was the “story of the fight” as Kellerman would have put. Berchelt, as we all knew going in, isn’t the most technical fighter and has had a history of overextending and chasing, however I did not expect Valdez to be able to counterpunch like that. Thoughts on the fight and what’s next for both.

Bit of a complicated question. Happened to be re-watching Canelo vs Cotto last night (was on facetime with a friend who I always watch MMA with so trying to get him into more boxing). I remember a lot of folk being really pissed off with the scorecards that heavily favoured Canelo (118-110, 119-109 ect) but we both agreed that a lot of rounds in that fight were very close and therefore, these are actually justifiable scorecards as you could just see all of the close rounds for Canelo.

Suppose the question I wanna ask is, when is a robbery actually a robbery?

MM:

Salvador Sanchez vs Sandy Sadler

Hurricane Carter vs Nigel Benn

Sugar Ray Robinson vs Duran (3 fight series at 147 – the Duran from the first Leonard fight)

Thanks again for the time and the mailbag. Stay safe. – Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland

Your Mythical Matchups:

Salvador Sanchez vs Sandy SadlerSanchez by close decision.

Hurricane Carter vs Nigel BennCarter by mid-round KO at middleweight; Benn by decision at super middleweight.

Sugar Ray Robinson vs Duran (3 fight series at 147 – the Duran from the first Leonard fight)Robinson goes 2-0-1 vs. Montreal June 1980 Duran, all three bouts are hotly contested.

Canelo digs a body shot to Lara during their 2014 showdown. Photo by Josh Hedges / Getty Images

The question I wanna ask is, when is a robbery actually a robbery? When one fighter CLEARLY wins more than seven rounds but doesn’t get the decision or has to settle for a draw. Pernell Whitaker’s draw with Julio Cesar Chavez was a robbery, the loss to Oscar De La Hoya wasn’t. You can argue that he could have won the De La Hoya fight, but you could also make a case for De La Hoya. Erislandy Lara’s loss to Paul Williams was a robbery. His loss to Canelo was not. Again, you could argue that he narrowly outpointed Canelo, but not by much. He hit P-Will with every left hand he lobbed at the volume-punching beanstalk. He should have won a clear decision that night. If there’s equal outrage for the De La Hoya and Canelo losses, it’s because they were the media darlings of those matchups.

Cotto-Canelo was not a robbery. Canelo legitimately won more than seven clear rounds. Fans and media were pissed that the official scores were wide for the “A-side”/star.

Take the Adrien Broner’s fight on Saturday. It was a close bout, which Jovanie Santiago certainly could have won by a few points, but there was outrage because the “name” fighter got the benefit of the doubt on the official scorecards (and Peter Harry’s 117-110 tally was egregious).

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s or Dougie’s Periscope (almost) every Sunday.

 

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