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Ring Ratings Update: Oscar Valdez makes his mark at junior lightweight

Oscar Valdez (right) vs. Miguel Berchelt. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
26
Feb

There’s a reason Oscar Valdez was a two-time Olympian and an unbeaten former world titleholder. Dude can fight. There’s a reason Reynoso was Ring Magazine’s 2019 Trainer of the Year. Dude can train.

There’s a reason the dynamic duo targeted Miguel Berchelt for the long-reigning junior lightweight titleholder’s WBC strap once Valdez left the featherweight division in late 2019.

And, as the old-timers say, there’s a reason they fight the fights. We, the observers, don’t know what’s going to happen until the bell rings. We knew Berchelt-Valdez was going to be an entertaining fight, but few believed that Valdez would drop, outclass and brutally KO “El Alacran.”

Regardless of who they thought would win the Mexican showdown, the Ring Ratings Panel, which did not rank Valdez at junior lightweight following the Nogales native’s first two bouts at 130 pounds (TKOs of Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez), was mightily impressed with his performance against the heavily favored Berchelt.



The only debate was whether to rank Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) at No. 1 or No. 2.

“Valdez scored a career-best win and early contender for Knockout of the Year when he KO’d the bigger but slower and more ponderous Berchelt in the 10th round,” said panelist Anson Wainwright. “I think I’ll go with Gervonta Davis at No. 1 and Valdez No. 2. For my money Shakur Stevenson is the best 130 pounder in the world, but he has to prove it in his upcoming fights.

“Here’s a suggested new order for junior lightweight: 1. Davis 2. Valdez 3. Diaz 4. Berchelt 5. Herring 6. Farmer 7. Rakhimov 8. Stevenson 9. Colbert 10. Gutierrez.”

Panelists Michael Montero and Martin Mulcahey suggested that Valdez assume Berchelt’s prior position at the top of the junior lightweight rankings.

“Valdez should be No. 1 at 130 pounds, he just beat our current No. 1 in quite decisive fashion,” said Montero. “Tank’s best win was against (Jose) Pedraza, and that was FOUR years ago. His last two fights were against faded, bloated, smaller men. It’s been showcase after showcase.

“Davis has all the talent and potential in the world but rating him No. 1 would be rewarding mediocrity in my opinion. Valdez just took on a much larger, heavily favored opponent in their physical prime and won big. Tank has never done that. He has however missed weight multiple times. Oscar has never done that.”

Added Mulcahey:

“I jumped off the Oscar Valdez bandwagon too soon thinking he had taken too much punishment while Berchelt was an expert at dishing out punishment. Glad to be proven wrong and looking over Anson’s suggestions I have no problem with them but also not sure if Berchelt will stay in the division either after that shock to the system.

“Valdez should be our No. 1 given he beat our top junior lightweight and has previous good wins with guys who came in at a higher weight class (looking at you Scott Quigg).”

Wainwright’s junior lightweight order was supported by Managing Editor Tom Gray and panelist Adam Abramowitz.

“I’ll vote for Davis at No. 1 at this weight because he’s been here longer and achieved quite a bit,” said Gray. “Valdez to No. 2 works for me. Those two for The Ring title would be a dream, but politics will prevent it.”

 

RING RATINGS UPDATE

Super middleweight – Fedor Chudinov drops from No. 7 to No. 9 after being held to a 10-round draw by veteran Isaac Chilemba.

“Chilemba is one of the best gatekeepers in boxing,” said Wainwright. “I could see us dropping Chudinov a place, he didn’t look great in his previous fight. We could bring Chilemba in at No. 10. However, I think we should stick with (Edgar) Berlanga in that spot.”

Added Mulcahey:

“Always appreciate Chilemba and what he brings. It is remarkable that he is 32 years old. I thought he was older in my Rolodex-age mind. I say drop Fedor to No. 9. He runs hot and cold at best and consistency is a top trait for rankings. There’s not much depth in the division to see someone else in.”

Junior welterweight – Kiryl Relikh exits the rankings due to inactivity. Robert Easter Jr., who won a wide 12-round decision over Ryan Martin, enters at No. 10.

“Frankly, Easter is more a threat at 140 pounds than his buddy, Adrien Broner,” said Wainwright. “Relikh has been inactive since losing to Regis Prograis in April 2019. I think we can take him out and bring Easter in at No. 10. If Relikh fights again he can re-enter, but this keeps things a little relevant.”

Junior lightweight – Valdez enters the rankings at No. 2. Berchelt drops to No. 4.

Strawweight – Vic Saludar remains at No. 6 after edging Robert Paradero by 12-round split decision.

 

Additional comments:

Wainwright noted that heavyweight Otto Wallin, who widely outpointed Dominic Breazeale, is just outside The Ring’s top 10.

Added Mulcahey:

“Wallin is showing he can hang with a top-10 guy and beat lessers, but I agree with Anson, I do not think he has proven the ability to BEAT anyone in top 10, so he stays just outside for now.”

Wainwright and Mulcahey were impressed by welterweight gatekeeper David Avanesyan’s six-round stoppage of previously unbeaten up-and-comer Josh Kelly, and less than enthused about Broner’s controversial nod over Jovanie Santiago.

“Avanesyan wouldn’t be denied and showed there is more to boxing than flash combinations as he grinded down and beat-up Kelly in six rounds,” said Wainwright. “It was a really good performance and win for Avanesyan who is still just outside the top 10 in a packed division.

“Broner (yawn) was given a 12-round unanimous decision over Santiago. Very mehh; he says he’s going back to 140. We’ll see. He’s just a name and not a factor at 147 or 140.”

Added Mulcahey:

“Avanesyan showed he more than qualifies as one of the sport’s top gatekeeper, and worked the game plan he stated from beginning to perfection. I would rank Avanesyan above Broner, who again did the least amount of work possible and still get a decision win.”

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.