Few prizefighters like Edwin Valero have created stories with his exploits in and out of the ring and near legendary status that stretch out to three continents.
With his tussled looking hair, spindly body and chiseled looking face Valero is easily identified when he walks into a boxing gym, whether it’s in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Caracas, or Mexico City, the mind-shocking Venezuelan fighter is now a wanted man.
The man who wants Valero (26-0, 26 KOs), his WBC lightweight world title and fearsome reputation is Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (23-1-1, 17 KOs) and he also wants that green belt badly. It will be televised on Showtime this Saturday.
You see, Mexicans really prefer the green belt that has been worn by so many previous Mexican fighters like Salvador Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chavez and others. They see it as a birth right.
Of course DeMarco wants Valero’s fearsome status too.
“No one is going to keep me from my destiny,” said DeMarco who was last seen on Halloween beating up Nicaragua’s Jose Alfaro for 10 rounds until the referee decided it was hopeless.
This time he faces a much sterner opponent who has never allowed a fight to be decided by judges. Valero is his own judge and executioner.
“I know Valero is a tough fighter and that he has taken on quality opponents. I give him much respect. There is a reason why he is the champion and he deserves all the accolades he has received,” said DeMarco, who has stopped three consecutive opponents. “That said, Valero is no different than the opponents that I have faced. They were tough too and so we will see how this fight turns out and who wins. I’m certain it will be me.”
Valero is different, very different.
In his eight years as a professional the gaunt looking Venezuelan has trained and sparred in the gyms of East L.A., Maywood, Tokyo, and that’s just a few. Everywhere he goes he rains destruction like some mad beast thirsting blood or that certain look of a man’s eyes leaving his senses. He doesn’t smile, he just stares at his victims.
Last year as he prepared for a title defense, he sparred with numerous boxers in Costa Mesa hoping they could last a few days or at least a few rounds. One after the other would enter the ring head gear in place and larger gloves on their hands, to face the speedy tornado like punches of Valero. One by one they ended up comatose hanging on one of the strands of ropes, or face first on the canvas like so much road kill. The only fighter able to stay conscious was a tall fighter name Josesito Lopez who is built much like DeMarco but is not a southpaw.
Southpaw or orthodox, Valero doesn’t discriminate. A blow to the jaw knocks them all out, but Valero is not one to overlook an opponent.
“DeMarco works hard and he’s physical,” said Valero by telephone from Mexico where he is preparing. “This fight is difficult, but I’m confident when it is over I will have my hand raised.”
So far Valero has been correct. The Venezuelan boxer prepares like a demon before every fight. Some say he really doesn’t need a trainer to supervise, he runs through his drills without rest. It’s almost robotic the way he goes from drill to drill hitting speed bags, heavy bags, exercises, shadow boxing and sparring with little rest. And every single drill is performed at maximum speed. The only other fighter who prepares similarly is a fellow from the Philippines you might know called Pacman.
Valero has big goals too.
“I want to win five world titles in five weight divisions,” said Valero who already has two including a junior lightweight world title and now a lightweight title.
For those who have ever witnessed Valero in a gym it’s unique to say the least. He walks in without a word, puts on his gear, and goes to work like a human cyclone. One time I happened to be in a gym he chose to work in and nobody knew who he was. They only knew that he was fast, powerful and tireless.
“Who is this guy,” said one boxing trainer. “He’s incredible.”
I had just walked into the gym in East L.A. when several boxing trainers ran up to me to ask if I recognized some guy who was near the back of the gym pummeling a heavy bag. I walked over, peeked slightly and returned to them with a smile.
“That’s Edwin Valero,” I told them.
Immediately they all nodded and laughed. They had heard the rumors that Valero was an uncanny gym rat who didn’t have a slow speed in his gears.
That’s the kind of fighter that DeMarco faces. But who knows? Maybe he can present a style that proves to have the antidote for Valero.
Valero knows anyone can lose. Even his fellow Venezuelan stalwart Jorge Linares lost to a Mexican in one round. That same Mexican lost to a Japanese in his first title defense.
“Yes, I was surprised that Linares lost. Especially that he lost by knockout,” said Valero. “In boxing anything is possible, but I prefer not to think about that at all.”