Edgar Valerio steps up versus fellow unbeaten prospect Manny Robles Jr.
While the bout between lightweights Mercito Gesta and Roberto Manzanarez is technically the main event on the upcoming edition of “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN,” from the Fantasy Springs Casino, in Indio, California, this Thursday, the match-up that is perhaps the most enticing is between a pair of undefeated featherweight prospects, Edgar Valerio, 13-0 (8), and Manny Robles Jr. 15-0 (7).
As the calendar turned, Valerio’s manager Joel De La Hoya decided that 2018 was going to be the year in which his boxer would begin the process of taking tougher fights, as they moved up the ladder.
When Valerio was asked a couple of weeks ago, during a media day at the Wild Card Boxing Club, if he was ready for such a task, he answered, “It’s a process; it’s a development. Every fight is a development. I’m fighting an undefeated fighter. His dad (Manuel Sr.) was ‘Trainer of the year.’ It’s a significant step up for me. Guy’s been in the amateurs; he’s been around the block a few times and, well, it’s my turn to come in and take over.”
Despite both young men being a presence on the busy Southern California gym scene, over the past several years, they have actually never sparred one another, according to Valerio. “No, not at all, never encountered him, met him personally. I don’t know him,” he said. “I pretty much know him from the amateurs and that’s it. Never did spar him.”
When asked to describe his upcoming foe, Valerio says, “I think he’s a very crafty fighter; he’s well-respected, very respectful. Nothing against him, it’s all business. It is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s going to be me and him in the ring and pretty much we’re going to showcase a good night of boxing.”
De La Hoya believes this fight with Robles is “definitely a step in the right direction. Manny is another undefeated prospect; he has a lot to prove himself so it’s a big step up for both guys – not just Manny. But Edgar’s ready; the kids a workhorse and been training his whole life for one of these opportunities.”
Valerio has been a staple at the Belasco Theater but now he gets a chance to break out on a much bigger platform on ESPN. And the brass at Golden Boy Promotions – which handles both boxers – made it clear that losing would not mean an exit from the company. “Absolutely, we’ve shown it time and time again,” said Robert Diaz, the head matchmaker for GBP. “Pablo Cesar Cano lost many times in bigger fights and bigger opportunities and was always right back in there because he always brought fun fights. Fidel Maldonado comes to mind.
“I mean, there are fighters out there willing to take risks and management and trainers willing to take risks and you can’t cut them because they’re willing to take that risk. No, you’ve got to applaud them and bring them right back. And then there are some who don’t take risks, unless the risk is 80/20 in their favor. That’s why I applaud both teams. You’d be surprised how easy this fight was to make.”
And this fight is anything but an 80/20 proposition for either boxer.
“If you look at Manny’s record and you look at Edgar’s record, they’re pretty comparable, as far as opponents go,” said De La Hoya. “So a step at a time, I think this is a good step in the right direction against a guy like Manny, who doesn’t have that big superstar ledger on him. He has some amateur background but it’s another step in the right direction.”
Diaz believes there’s more to matchmaking than just pitting two guys with glossy records. As the saying goes, styles make – or break – fights.
“Jessie Roman-Javier Molina, it was a good L.A. fight, matched up very even on paper,” recalled Diaz, of a fight he made recently for the Belasco Theater. “I had it 6-2, in favor of Molina, but I expected a little more engaging on both sides. At the end of the day, once you’re in the ring, you’ve got to do what you have to do to win.
“Last week, Travell Mazion against Daquan Pauldo, there were times in the fight you could see they were ready to engage. Once that got going, it was going to be very exciting and had its moments but, at the end, I also felt like, ‘Man, neither side really went in here and took the necessary chances.’ It made for a very close fight, very entertaining fight but I think, this one with Robles and Valerio, we’re going to get fireworks.”
Diaz’s reasoning is simple: “I think both sides know what the fight means; both fighters want this win. We’ve seen Valerio in some very exciting fights; he’s gotten dropped, gotten up and finished his opponents. He’s got power. Manny Robles is aggressive, strong. I was very impressed when I sent him down to a (Jorge) Linares camp, when (Linares) was getting ready for the second (Anthony) Crolla fight and Linares had sent back a couple of sparring partners and he called me back and said, ‘Hey, I love this Robles kid. In fact, I’m going to make him my chief sparring partner,’ and he told me, every sparring session, Manny was getting better and better and better.
“So I’m excited; this fight can steal the night. It can be the fight of the night.”
If both Valerio and Robles have title aspirations, then these are the types of fights they need to be involved in and win their fair share. The winner of this bout will also take the NABF featherweight title, which will get them ranked in the WBC. “More important is the activity, activity, exposure and experience,” said De La Hoya. “We’re not pushing for anything major right now but this is a good step in he right direction, like I said.”
A win for Valerio would be significant for his career prospects.
He says merely, “I believe in whatever my promoter and manager decide, and they’ll find me the challenges.”
FANTASY SPRINGS FLURRIES
According to Dan Rafael of ESPN, Golden Boy has upped its offer to unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin to 42.5-percent of the split against Saul Alvarez and he has till High Noon on Wednesday to sign the deal. It says here that “GGG” needs to get his Bic out and put his John Hancock on the contract…The card on ESPN this Thursday begins at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT…Former two-division champion David Haye has announced his retirement from the ring…The WBA has ordered negotiations to begin between its “regular” middleweight titlist Ryoto Murata and Rob Brant….So has Sir Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing, said that the Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder fight is a go?…Great to have our warm weather back in Southern California. This is Zima-sipping climate now…So Kuzma Moe Dee and LLonzo Cool J have diss tracks aimed at each other? Oh, geez…Remember when Christian Hackenberg was the next great QB prospect?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.