Frank Espinoza: ‘Oscar Valdez wants Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares and Carl Frampton’
When undefeated WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez, 24-0 (19), and former WBA junior featherweight champion Scott Quigg, 34-2-2 (25), signed to square off on March 10, at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, most boxing fans were thrilled. The general consensus was that this bout, arguably the toughest of both of their careers, was going to be good.
Valdez would eventually box, brawl and gut his way to a unanimous decision win under the ring canopy as the rain poured down on this cool California night. However it came at a cost to both fighters.
Valdez would leave the ring smiling but with fewer straight teeth. He was also treated the following day for a broken jaw and was also sporting a very badly swollen left hand. Meanwhile Quigg would exit the squared circle with a broken nose.
Quigg, a consummate professional, who has traditionally shown up on weight and in shape for all of his fights, stepped on the scale and was almost three pounds over the featherweight limit of 126 pounds. Because he was over the contacted weight there would be no attempt to lose the excess weight under California State Commission rules.
Despite a reportedly valiant effort by Quigg, he could not get his body down to 126 pounds. With Quigg weighing in at 142 pounds on fight night, Valdez (who came in around 135 pounds) was facing a welterweight. It was now negotiation time.
Valdez, a fighter who never met a good brawl he didn’t like, was adamant that he wanted the fight to proceed, despite any weight advantage Quigg might have had. Quigg, who was dealing with a foot injury throughout his camp, was glad the fight was proceeding.
Longtime Valdez manager Frank Espinoza was initially concerned about the fight proceeding but gave way to his fighter’s wishes after renegotiating the contact. The fans were certainly glad Espinoza acquiesced in the end, as they were treated to a great back-and-forth war between the two champions.
Valdez remained undefeated and certainly garnered more traction in his quest to build his audience. However leaving the ring with a serious jaw fracture and a damaged hand, it might be the last time we see him in the ring in 2018.
While Valdez, a consummate warrior, certainly loved the night’s work, one wonders if manager Espinoza had second thoughts after the bout about letting his fighter proceed under such weighty circumstances.
Many fans felt that if Quigg had been forced to scrape himself down to the featherweight limit, the thunderous body shots Valdez landed throughout the fight would have eventually been too much for the British challenger, resulting in a stoppage win for Valdez.
UCNLive.com caught up with the highly respected Espinoza to get his thoughts on the fight and what he sees going forward for Valdez.
“When we arrived at the weigh-in and I saw Quigg with his shirt off, I just knew he was over. I could tell he looked heavy,” said Espinoza. “In California, with two pounds or more, they don’t make you try to lose the weight, so it came down to what do we want to do. So after some negotiating, I spoke with Oscar and ultimately it’s up to the fighter and he told me that he wanted to make them pay for missing the weight, so we went ahead with the fight. Oscar is a warrior and, on that night, he gave another valiant effort in his win. People were blown away by the guts and heart he showed.”
Asked if he had ever thought about pulling Valdez out, Espinoza said, while it is always a tough call, ultimately he will look to his fighter for his decision. “The fighter ultimately gets to make that decision,” said Espinoza. “For me, it is always about what is best for my fighter, what is the best move for his health and safety. But Oscar said he felt good and, despite any weight difference, he wanted to fight. He is a warrior.”
Asked if Espinoza thought the weight difference was a factor, he expressed that it probably did play a role in allowing Quigg to survive in there but, in the end, Valdez got the win. “I think that if Quigg had been forced to get down to the 126-pound weight limit, that probably Oscar would have stopped him because he was landing heavy shots to his body. But I think the extra weight helped Quigg because Oscar was landing some real hard shots. But, you know, in the end, we got the win and we will move on to bigger and better fights,” he said.
While Valdez is a long way from returning to the ring, fight fans wouldn’t mind another Valdez-Quigg bout but Espinoza doesn’t see that happening, “As far as Quigg goes for a rematch? We got the fight; we got the win. I don’t think there is any need to fight him again. It was a great fight and the fans got a great fight but there is no need to fight Quigg again. We beat him, despite the weight advantage. It was unprofessional of him not to make weight but we went ahead anyways. But we are ready to move on from this fight.”
With Valdez leaving the ring sporting a swollen hand and a broken jaw, it is downtime for now, for the WBO champion.
“It’s really up to the doctor that performed the procedure on him as to when he comes back but it’s going to be a while,” said Espinoza. “I want him to take some time off and go relax and be with his family and do the things that he enjoys doing when he’s not training. Take some time off. Relax.”
While the grueling Quigg assignment will keep Valdez in dry dock for a few months, when he does return, Valdez and Espinoza are looking to keep building on his ever-expanding audience and face the very best fighters available.
“This is a special fighter. I remember when I saw him in the amateurs and I said to myself, ‘This guy is going to be a world champion one day.’ I think he really has what it takes to be the next Mexican idol in boxing. I know he spent some time in Arizona for school but Mexico is where his heart is and who he really fights for,” said Espinoza. “We want the best out there. We are looking for the biggest fights. We want the big names. We want (WBA beltholder Leo) Santa Cruz, (WBA “regular” titlist Abner) Mares and (former two-division titleholder Carl) Frampton.”
And it sounds like Valdez has the approval of a true Mexican legend.
“When you have the great Julio Cesar Chavez speaking well about you, then you know you are doing something right,” said Espinoza.