Oscar Valdez Steals the Show – Omaha’s Terence Crawford now owns two of the world championship belts at 140 pounds after cruising to a unanimous decision over Victor Postol on Saturday, July 23, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. On the undercard, Oscar Valdez needed little time in overrunning Argentina’s Matias Rueda with every punch in his arsenal to win the WBO featherweight world title in the second round.
“It’s a dream I had since I was eight years old,” said Valdez.
Valdez (21-0, 18 KOs) didn’t know what to expect against undefeated Rueda (26-1, 23 KOs) but knew by his record the Argentine could punch. So he beat Rueda to the punch to dominate and win the WBO title by knockout at the MGM Grand before more than 7,000 fans.
Valdez didn’t waste time establishing his overall quickness. Quick jabs and left hooks found the mark early and hurt Rueda. A follow up right hand further hurt the Argentine.
In the second round Valdez unloaded his complete arsenal including more crushing left hooks. Rueda tried to fight back but ran into a counter right cross that buckled his knees. A three-punch combination by a fired-up Valdez and a left hook to the body sent Rueda slumped to the floor. He got up and was met by a flurry of blows including another to the body and down went Rueda for good as referee Russell Mora signaled the fight over at 2:18 of the second round. Valdez was deemed the winner by knockout and new WBO featherweight titlist.
“That’s the beauty of this sport, if you work hard, your dreams can come true,” Valdez said. “My manager, my trainer are all a part of this.”
Valdez said he welcomes any challenge including a match with Vasyl Lomachenko who now fights at a higher division.
Oscar Valdez Steals the Show – Other bouts
Jose Benavidez (25-0, 16 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Francisco Santana that seemed a lot closer than the scorecards after 10 rounds in a welterweight clash. Once again Benavidez slumped on the ropes for much of the fight and allowed his opponent to tee off on him. But once again the judges allowed him to get away with the practice as one judge scored it 100-90 for Benavidez. The others scored it 98-92 and 96-94 for Benavidez too. “I threw the harder cleaner punches. I felt very strong with my power,” said Benavidez. “I expected a tough fight and got it.”
The Arizona fighter also called out WBO titlist Jesse Vargas. “Come get it,” said Vargas who was sitting in press row doing television analysis.
Undefeated light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0, 9 KOs) survived a first round knockdown by Tommy Karpency (26-6-1, 15 KOs) who caught him with a sneak right hook. After he shook out the cobwebs the Ukrainian fighter began racking up round after round with hit and move tactics. A Gvozdyk right hand body shot at 2:21 of the sixth round put down Karpency for good.
Japan’s Ryota Murata (11-0, 8 KOs) looked strong in stopping Oklahoma’s George Tahdooahnippah (34-3-3, 24 KOs) by knockout. A Murata left hook to the body dropped the Oklahoma fighter early and a dozen blows to the body forced referee Benjy Esteves to stop the action at 1:52 of the first round. Murata, a former Olympic gold medal winner, looked strong in the middleweight knockout win.
Australia’s Lenny Zappavigna (35-2, 25 KOs) knocked out China’s Lianhui Yang (18-2, 13 KOs) at 43 seconds of the fifth round in their middleweight clash. Zappavigna controlled nearly every round and connected often with the left hook. A right cross staggered Yang and allowed the Aussie to follow up with a barrage of punches that forced the referee Vic Drakulich to stop the fight.
Detroit’s Edward Williams (12-1-1) defeated Houston’s Christon Edwards (6-2) by unanimous decision after six rounds of a clutch-fest welterweight bout. Every time Williams had Edwards with his back to the ropes he would wrangle his arm and push him back. He did it all six rounds with only warnings from the referee.
Ukraine’s Stanislav Skorokhod (11-1, 8 KOs) floored Hakin Bryant (6-1, 4 KOs) twice in the first round and celebrated too early. Each round got harder and harder but after six middleweight rounds Skorokhod was deemed the winner 59-53 and 60-52 twice. It was a left hook that floored Bryant in the first round. The second knockdown was more a slip but ruled a knockdown by referee Kenny Bayless.
Steve Nelson (3-0, 3 KOs) scored a first round knockdown against Tim Meek (5-3-1) then proceeded to batter him until the fight was stopped at 32 seconds of the fourth round of the light heavyweight clash. It was the first bout of the night.
Oscar Valdez Steals the Show / photo by Al Applerose. Crawford Celebrates in the Fight’s Aftermath.