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Oscar Valdez: My goal is to try to conquer what belongs to me, I will be champion again

Oscar Valdez (right) attacks Adam Lopez during their first bout in November 2019. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank
Fighters Network

Oscar Valdez will be back in action for the first time in a year on Saturday against a familiar foe. The former two-division titleholder will take on Adam Lopez in a rematch from 2019. Valdez told The Ring that he wants to get back to producing the electrifying knockouts his fans have become accustomed to.

Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) reminisced on how he began boxing. He says that from a very young age, he knew that boxing was in his blood.

“My family was always into sports. My father was the guy that should take all the credit because my father put me in all different types of sports: swimming, baseball, and the last one turned out to be boxing,” Valdez said.

“My family is very big into boxing. The first time I actually stepped in the ring at a gym was when I was eight years old. I put the gloves on for the first time, we sparred with some kid who was a little bit more experienced than me, because that was my first time, and we did okay in the sparring. Ever since then, man I fell in love with the sport. To this day I still got the same passion, the same love for the sport of boxing because I can truly say that boxing has saved my life.”

From then on, it was non-stop boxing for Valdez, who is ranked number one by Ring Magazine in the junior lightweight rankings. He looked up to the greats of his time like Julio Caesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya. But he also found that he was enthralled with Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, two great champions from that same time. And while Valdez looks up to Barrera and Morales, he feels he still has a long way to go to equal his childhood heroes.

“It’s hard to accomplish what they did, man,” he said. “Morales being a four-time division champion. Give me those amazing wars man. I feel like that was real boxing. Real boxing fans would enjoy those types of fights.”

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 20: Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez (left) exchange punches during their fight for the WBC super featherweight title at the MGM Grand Conference Center on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez (left) exchange punches during their fight for the WBC super featherweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Oscar Valdez: “My goal is to become world champion again.”

Winning the WBC 130-pound title with a sensational 11th-round KO of countryman Miguel Berchelt was a dream come true for Valdez. But that dream turned to a nightmare just two fights later when he faced Shakur Stevenson to unify his belt. That night ended in Stevenson winning a lop-sided decision that left Valdez out in the cold. When thinking about that loss, Valdez says that losing that fight both hurt him and motivated him to be better. He also says that nothing can be done about the loss now that Stevenson is at lightweight.

“It was definitely a tough pill to swallow due to the fact that I lost against Shakur Stevenson and it felt like the world crumbled on me,” he said. “Because after that fight seeing a lot of fans, seeing other people come from all over the world, especially from Mexico to see me in Las Vegas, I kept on looking at the fans, and I just felt disappointed that I let my people down.”

Don’t expect Valdez to pursue a rematch with Stevenson now that the undefeated American is campaigning at lightweight, but he says there are plenty of challenges at junior lightweight.

“I’m in this position, now, that Shakur left, you know, there’s no point of me going up to 135 because I’m a small 130 fighter,” he said. “So, it would be a wrong move for me to try to move up to 135 against these very big fighters. So right now, my goal is to try to conquer what belongs to me. I lost against Shakur, now I’m looking for those belts that are vacant. Now, there’s other world champions like Emanuel Navarrete and O’Shaquie Foster. So, my goal for this year is to become a world champion again.”

It’s been a year since his last fight. Valdez knows that inactivity saps a fighter’s career, especially at the point he’s at in his career. Valdez points to Eddy Reynoso, his trainer, as to the one that keeps him on track and becoming a better boxer.

“In boxing you never stop learning, especially with a trainer like Eddy Reynoso,” he said. “We’re always trying to work on something different. And the main goal right now is just come back. It’s been a year since the Shakur fight. One of the things that kills all fighters is being inactive. So I want to step that up back into the ring and do my best to eliminate them to win the fight. So that’s the main goal right now. Come back and show different things that we’re improving.”

Valdez is good people and few fighters love to train as much as he does.

No Pressure, No Problem

There is no such thing as pressure to Valdez. He loves the eyes on him and loves to box in front of those eyes. Returning to Las Vegas, live on ESPN PPV, on such a big stage isn’t a problem. He embraces it and enjoys the process of big-time boxing.

“It doesn’t matter if I fight in Vegas, if I fight in China, if I fight in Mexico, fight on ESPN, even fight on another platform. For me, it’s boxing,” he said. “It’s just stepping in the ring and doing what I love to do the most fighting. I feel that I was meant to box. I just can’t wait to come back. It doesn’t get old, fighting in ESPN.”

With the fight marking the return of one of boxing’s most entertaining fighters, Valdez leaves us with one more note on why to tune in to watch him take on Lopez (16-4, 6 KOs). He drops the names of some of the greatest to ever do it as to his motivation to why he fights the way he fights. If you don’t read these names and instantly get intrigued about the fight, there is no helping you.

“Every time I’m stepping in the ring, I look at all the tapes. I look at Roberto Duran and Marvelous Hagler, Tommy Hearns. I look at Pipino Cuevas, Salvador Sanchez, the type of fighters that come forward and that always give us their best. Then I go back and I go into a dressing room, get ready and then we go out to fight.”