Oscar Valdez straddles two worlds as deftly as he handles incoming fire from top contenders inside the prize ring.
Whether it’s Tucson, Arizona or Nogales, Mexico the WBO featherweight world titlist glides through the differences confidently like breathing in and out.
But confidence is not cockiness.
Though undefeated after five years as a professional, when Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) faces Genesis Servania (29-0, 12 KOs) of the Philippines on Friday Sept. 22, at the Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona, he expects yet another pitched battle. ESPN will televise the world title fight.
“I’ve seen him fight before. It’s a tough fight,” said Valdez, 26, adding that his previous foe Miguel Marriaga was also unknown until they fought at StubHub. “Not a lot of people know him (Servania) but there was a point that nobody knew who Manny Pacquiao was and a point when nobody knew (Marcos) Maidana.
More on that point: there was a time few knew the qualities of Valdez too.
The two-time Mexican Olympian now lives in Southern California in Riverside County. Since becoming a pro in 2012 the Mexican-born champion has slowly developed into one of the most entertaining yet skilled prizefighters in an area filled with talent.
Many times an entertaining boxer can mean a brawler, but Valdez manages to straddle both worlds while being both fun to watch and skillful enough to get away with an aggressive approach.
Take his last two world title challenges for example. Against Colombia’s Marriaga the fight changed several times as Valdez unveiled layer after layer of his potent offense. When the knockout did not emerge he stifled any attacks with his array of defensive tactics.
It was impressive.
Prior to that Valdez fought Japan’s Hiroshige Osawa and broke him down slowly like a lumberjack hacking away in the Canadian tundra.
Maybe his ability to fight on different levels comes from being able to live in two distinct worlds like Mexico and the United States. He’s also aware of the plight of thousands of Mexicans living in the U.S. who face deportation. It hurts him.
“It makes some sad that we come to this country not to rape or do bad things, we only come to this country to get a better life,” says Valdez who lived in Arizona for several years and now lives in Lake Elsinore, Calif. when training.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum wholeheartedly supports the Mexican youth called the “Dreamers.”
“These Dreamer kids are as American as my grandkids. The idea we would send them back to other countries is ludicrous. Americans supposedly have higher ethical standards,” said Arum. “I will fight to my last breath for these kids. We have to open our hearts to them.”
SoCal Ramping Up Again
Several fight cards take place in Southern California once again.
On Friday, another Thompson Boxing Promotions card takes place at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.
The newest member of its world champion club, Danny Roman, should be in attendance. He recently dethroned Japan’s Shu Kubo by knockout to take the WBA super bantamweight title. It’s now in the L.A. native’s hands and he is expected to be at the boxing show to meet fans on Friday Sept. 22.
The main event features Jose “Gato” Roman (24-1-1, 16 KOs) against Wilberth Lopez (18-8) in a lightweight clash. Also on the card will be undefeated prospects Ruben Villa, Ruben Torres, Michael Dutchover and Juan Ruiz.
For more information call (714) 935-0900.
Jorge Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) defends the WBA lightweight world title against England’s Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KOs) at the Inglewood Forum on Saturday Sept. 23. Golden Boy Promotions, Teiken Promotions and Matchbox Promotions are the promoters of record on the fight that will be televised by HBO.
Linares, 32, has had an interesting career. When he first arrived in the American scene from Venezuela and Japan he was immediately crowned the best young fighter by many. But things did not work out immediately and though he won world titles he never dominated.
The sharp-shooting Venezuelan always had problems against Mexican fighters, especially the brawlers. His first three losses were to Juan Salgado, Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson in 2012. But after that last loss Linares seems to have discovered what was missing and has not lost since.
Also on the card is undefeated Antonio Orozco (26-0, 17 KOs) defending the NABC and WBC USNBC super lightweight titles against Roberto Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico.
Orozco, 29, of San Diego won his last fight by impressive knockout against Keandre Gibson in Las Vegas last April.
Doors open at 3 p.m.
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Kaliesha West (16-2-3) returns to the ring wars when she faces Kirstie Simmons (8-2) in a six round main event held in the super featherweight division. The match takes place at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif. on Saturday Sept. 23.
West, 29, a former two-division world champion, has been away for three years and expects a rugged fight against Simmons, 34, a southpaw fighting out of Colorado.
The fight will be held at 128 pounds. West intends to fight at 122 pounds ultimately after this fight.
For tickets go to www.zoobubble.com
Doors open at 7 p.m.
Oscar Valdez photo courtesy of Al Applerose
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