Frank Espinoza: ‘Oscar Valdez wants to fight the best out there’
With the recent announcement that undefeated WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez had parted ways with trainer Manny Robles and hired new coach Eddie Reynoso, it became clear that Valdez felt it was time to take the next chapter of his career in a new direction, from a training standpoint.
Sometimes after a loss, a fighter (or, more specifically, his management or promoter) sometimes looks at the training aspects of his team and wonders if there needs to be an adjustment, if not an outright change, to his routine.
Valdez has enjoyed a successful and unblemished run under Robles, since winning the title in 2016. Valdez has four successful defenses under his belt but his most recent fight came at a cost, as he left the ring with a fractured jaw, some loose teeth and another 12 rounds of punishment under his belt.
Valdez is an offense-minded, powerful boxer. He throws with everything he has and then some. He comes at you with with guns blazing and swings for the fences. While this style makes for great, fan-friendly fights, it doesn’t always bode well for career longevity.
UCNLive caught up with Valdez manager Frank Espinoza to get an update on what is next for one of boxing’s most exciting champions.
“He’s healing up; he’s doing well,” said Espinoza in regard to Valdez’s jaw, that was operated on, shortly after his exciting unanimous decision win over Scott Quigg last March. “We’ll get the final OK from his doctor in September but we should be all good to go to resume serious training.”
As to when he would like to see Valdez, 24-0 (19), back in the ring, Espinoza said fans might see him before the end of the year.
“We are looking at perhaps a return in December, if not very early in the New Year,” he said. “We won’t put him in with the toughest fight out there, as he is returning from a long layoff. He needs to get his feet wet, sharpen the tools, as he has been away a while and he has to have the right fight for his first back after this layoff.”
Addressing the big change in Valdez’s career, being the hiring of Reynoso, Espinoza felt it was just time.
“You know, I have to evaluate my fighters and their performances every time they fight,” said Espinoza. “Oscar, in his last three fights, had really tough fights and I was seeing some things in his defense that were a concern to me. I am a pretty good at evaluating the training he is doing and I just had some concerns regarding his defense that I didn’t see improving how I would like. Oscar is a powerful boxer and he is aggressive and you need a very sharp defense with that style, at the level he fights at. Especially at this stage of his career, as he heads into what could be the toughest fights of his career.”
It was clear that, in Reynoso (who is busy readying charge Saul Alvarez for his rematch with WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin), Espinoza saw a trainer who could address the key issue of defense for Valdez.
“I am a pretty good evaluator of trainers and I really liked what I saw in Reynoso,” he said. “He has done a really good job with ‘Canelo’s’ defense and I think it will be a good fit for Oscar. You know, Bill, as a manager, I have to make decisions that aren’t easy ones sometimes. This is not a statement about Manny Robles; he is a great trainer and we are thankful for what he did for Oscar. But I have to do what I feel is best for my fighter and his career. It was just a business decision and I felt this was the time.”
Even with many amateur and pro miles under his belt, and now at age 27, Valdez still makes 126 pounds without any problems but we may see him move to 130 pounds.
“The 126 pound division is great; there is so much talent in the division,” said Espinoza. “I think, in time, we may see Oscar move up to 130, as he gets a bit older, but, right now, he wants to face the very best at 126. He makes the weight easy and there are some great fights for him.”
Assuming Team Valdez gets the final green light from the doctor in September, when asked what can we hope to see from Valdez in the coming year, it was simply, “Bring on the best.”
“Oscar is excited to get back and he wants to fight the very best out there, the other champions,” said Espinoza. “We’d love a fight with (WBA titlist) Leo Santa Cruz; that’d be a great fight in L.A., at the Staples Center. We would love to fight (former two-division beltholder) Carl Frampton. Any of the other champions, that’s who Oscar wants. To establish himself as the best, to establish his legacy, he needs to face the top fighters. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. And that is who Oscar wants to fight, the other champions. Oscar Valdez wants to fight the best out there.”