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Oscar Valdez sets his sights on Miguel Berchelt, but Jayson Velez comes first

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez 27-0 (21) is targeting a shot at WBC super featherweight champion Miguel ‘El Alacran’ Berchelt 37-1 (33).

But first the 29-year-old Mexican must get past former world title challenger Jayson Velez 29-6-1 (21) in their 10-round clash at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday night.

“Oscar Valdez wants to fight WBC world champion Miguel Berchelt, and I know Miguel wants nothing more than to fight Oscar,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.

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“Oscar knows Jayson Velez is a serious challenge that he cannot overlook. This is a great main event, and an incredible deep card, to close out our first round of shows inside the ‘Bubble’.”

Valdez has won three fights in a row since his March 2018 war of attrition against Scott Quigg, when his jaw was shattered in the fifth round of a 12-round championship bout. He took nearly one year off following the Quigg fight and moved up to the super featherweight division last year.

In his last outing he survived a second-round knockdown to knock out Adam Lopez in the seventh round in Las Vegas in November.

“I’m ready for the best of the division,” Valdez said. “I want to be a two-division world champion, and the only way to do that is to beat tough fighters like Jayson Velez, who has challenged for a world title and possesses a lot of experience.

“Also, I’m very thankful to be fighting during this critical time where the sport of boxing is getting attention again.

“We know there have been discussions about me challenging Miguel Berchelt for his WBC super featherweight world title, but Velez is first. I need to beat Velez first if I want to fight Berchelt, and I’m expecting a very tough fight.

“I want to dedicate this fight to all of the nurses and doctors who are working hard on this pandemic and to my father, Top Rank, and my manager, Frank Espinoza. I can’t wait to return to the ring.”

Puerto Rican Velez, 32, was held to a split draw in his lone world title shot against IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich in November 2014.

He has never been knocked out in a career that has spanned nearly 13 years.

“Oscar Valdez is the greatest name I have ever had the opportunity to face,” Velez said. “He is a young, undefeated fighter who was already a world champion and is hungry for another world title.

“At this stage of my career, I see each fight as if it were the last chance to achieve my dream. It’s now or never. We are going to make that dream come true.”

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