Scott Quigg’s match with Carl Frampton in February of 2016 was a major event in the U.K. Abetted by a large contingent of Frampton supporters from Northern Ireland, the bout between the two title-holders in the 122-pound weight class, both then undefeated, packed Manchester Arena to the rafters and raked in strong numbers on the pay-per-view arm of Sky TV.
Quigg came on in the late rounds, but lost a split decision that should have been unanimous. On the whole, the fight was boring, drawing comparisons to Mayweather-Pacquiao. And Scott Quigg has been largely off the radar screen since that misstep.
Quigg suffered a broken jaw in the Frampton fight that shelved him for almost 10 months. He has scored three wins over relatively obscure opponents since resuming his career. On Saturday, he gets a chance to become a two-division champion when he meets WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Quigg, whose parents own a fish and chips shop in Manchester, will be making his U.S. debut with the noted trainer Freddie Roach in his corner.
Although Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) has tasted only one defeat, he is a 3/1 underdog in man-to-man betting over his undefeated (23-0, 19 KOs) adversary, a former two-time Olympian who will be making his fourth title defense.
Valdez is promoted by Top Rank. Bob Arum’s company rarely takes big risks with their top commodities. Arum believes that the bilingual Valdez, who spent his formative years in Tucson and across the border in Nogales, has the bonafides to become a crossover star. And it’s worth noting that this is a voluntary defense for Valdez, not a mandatory.
But this match yet has the earmarks of a pretty good scrap. Valdez had to work hard to turn away unheralded Genesis Servania in his last fight. And if Quigg is looking for inspiration, there’s Billy Joe Saunders who ventured into hostile territory in Montreal and gave local fan favorite David Lemieux a boxing lesson. Saunders’ performance, notes U.K. Metro sportswriter Coral Barry, “was hailed as one of the best displays from a British fighter across the pond in years.”
An interesting aspect of this fight is that it is a co-promotion between Arum and Eddie Hearn, likely the prelude to more collaborations. If Hearn’s bell cow Anthony Joshua gets past Joseph Parker as expected on March 31, he will presumably look for a tune-up fight before locking horns with Deontay Wilder. Arum has two heavyweights in his stable – Andy Ruiz and Bryant Jennings – and would love nothing more than to feed one of these guys to Anthony Joshua.
Ruiz (29-1) is tucked away on the undercard, making his first start since losing a majority decision to Parker in New Zealand in December of 2016. He is matched against Devin Vargas (20-4), a fighter from Toledo with a storied amateur background whose sputtering pro career never took flight. Vargas, who is now 36 years old, won his first 17 pro fights but is 3-4 in his last seven with all four losses by TKO.
The co-main to Valdez-Quigg is an intriguing match between undefeated super featherweights Andy Vences and Erick De Leon. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise (check local listings) and insomniacs in the U.K. can check out the action on Sky where the main event figures to go off at approximately 3:30 am.
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