Monday, March 27, 2023  |


Yves Ulysse Jr. needs Valenzuela victory to “get back to the big leagues”


On Thursday, Yves Ulysse Jr. will face tough Mexican Gabriel Valenzuela over 10 scheduled rounds at the Montreal Casino in Montreal. It should provide Ulysse and his team with an idea of what he has left and how far he can go in the deep junior welterweight division.

“It’s going to be tough fight; he’s come to fight,” Ulysse (22-2, 12 knockouts) told The Ring. “I saw what he did with Montana Love. It’ll be a helluva fight. 

“He’s strong with both hands; he’s powerful. I have to be smart and wise.”

Valenzuela gave then-unbeaten Montana Love all he could handle over 12 close rounds last May but lost a narrow decision on the undercard of Dmitry Bivol-Canelo Alvarez.

The 34-year-old Ulysse has won his last four fights since he was surprisingly beaten by rugged Venezuelan Ismael Barroso (UD 12) in December 2019. He knows at his age a defeat would be hard to get past, but he claims he has re-tooled and is primed to launch himself into bigger fights in the second half of this year.

“I’ve been to the big leagues and I want to get back to the big leagues,” he said. “I have to show the people what I’m capable of.

“Maybe a title fight, that’s what I’m waiting for. I’m always busy, I’m ready to fight. Whoever has got the title.”

Ulysse’s promoter, Camille Estephan of Eye of the Tiger Management, believes Valenzuela will test his fighter and knows it’s a bout he can ill-afford to lose if he has designs on a world title. 

“A lot of people said Valenzuela beat Montana Love — that’s impressive in itself,” said Estephan. “But beating Robbie Davies Jr. in the United Kingdom on a decision [in 2021], he must have really dominated.

Yves Ulysse Jr. and Gabriel Valenzuela face off. (Photo: Eye of the Tiger)

“Yves went to Cuba for a nice camp. He’s very ready. He’s taking this very seriously. I think Yves really has to win. … I think the fans are going to see a spectacular fight.”

Stylistically, this should be an interesting matchup. Ulysse is a good boxer who likes to use the ring and box behind his jab, and at times his style can be awkward for an opponent. He can box up or down to the level of who he is facing. Against Valenzuela, he might have to fight at a higher pace than he usually likes to, but that could potentially bring out the best in Ulysse. 

This is a well-matched fight between two fighters on the edge of the top 15-20 in a very strong division. The winner could legitimately expect to get a bigger fight next. Facing the winner of this weekend’s fight between Arnold Barboza Jr. and Jose Pedraza, a comebacking Jose Zepeda or even Teofimo Lopez could be something to strive for.

Valenzuela (25-3-1, 15 KOs) won his first three fights before suffering back-to-back defeats against Luis Hernandez (TKO 4) and William Zepeda (UD 6). However, he reeled off 22 wins out of 23 contests, the lone blemish coming in Canada against unbeaten Jessie Wilcox (D 8). During that time, the 28-year-old beat fringe contender Nery Saguilan (KO 4), trial horse Daniel Echeverria (UD 10) and most notably traveled to England to edge out hometown favorite Robbie Davies Jr. (MD 10). 


Erik Bazinyan eager to resume world title quest against Alantez Fox on Thursday

Bazinyan-Fox will headline the Eye of the Tiger event on ESPN+ in the U.S. at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT., and the card will also be broadcast live on

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].