Oscar Valdez hopes to win featherweight title on July 23
Oscar “The King” Valdez, 19-0 (17), will face Matias Carlos Adrian Rueda, 26-0 (23), for the vacant WBO world featherweight title, July 23 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, live on HBO Pay-Per-View.
The Sonora, Mexico native is coming off the biggest win of his career in April when he stopped former world featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich. Valdez was in control from the get-go before finally stopping Gradovich in the fourth round for the biggest – and perhaps his most impressive – win of his career.
Before Valdez turned professional in 2012, he had racked up impressive stats as an amateur. In 2009, he won a bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships, becoming the first fighter to achieve a medal at a world championships in the history of Mexican boxing. After an outstanding amateur career that saw him participate in two Olympics, Valdez has advanced quickly through the professional ranks. And while he has an impressive amateur career behind him, he now wants to achieve the ultimate goal of every professional: winning a world title.
Valdez is a blue-chip contender that Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum hopes to transition into a major attraction among the boxing-crazed Mexican fight market. Valdez, along with WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto Ramirez and Jose Ramirez, could be the next pay-per-view stars for the Las Vegas-based promotional firm. Just two fights ago, Valdez stopped former world title challenger Chris Avalos and now is looking at a world title shot.
While Rueda is largely unknown outside of his native Argentina, Valdez knows no opponent can be taken lightly, especially those who have stopped 23 of 26 opponents. Rueda, knowing the hopes and expectations (see: pressure) are all on Valdez, comes into the fight with a “nothing to lose” attitude. Valdez knows that mentality can be tough to conquer.
However, Valdez shows a maturity beyond his 25 years. He talks like someone who understands that every fighter must be taken seriously. Rueda, fighting for a world title on the road, with all eyes on his opponent and with little to lose and everything to gain, is certainly someone to be taken seriously.
Valdez spoke in pre-fight interviews about the importance of being ready for the best Rueda available, being patient and letting conditioning and a fight plan dictate the pace, while not rushing to score a knockout.
“There is no easy fighter out there. (Rueda) is a hard-hitting puncher. I’m gonna be the smarter fighter. I’m expecting the best guy there is. He is a typical, hard-hitting Argentinian fighter,” said Valdez. “I’m not gonna stay there and see if he can hit. I’m not looking for the knockout. If the knockout comes, I’ll take it but, if not, I’ll be happy to go all 12 rounds. If I hurt my opponent, I will try to take them out but, otherwise, I will be happy to go the 12 rounds, he continued. “As a fighter, you evolve and I have done that. I know I am a much better boxer now than when I began my professional career. I am ready to challenge for a world title,” said Valdez.
Valdez, who has a rapidly-expanding fan base, certainly has a chance to be the next big star in Mexican boxing.
“I just want to be the best that I can be. I am honored to be compared to the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera and I do appreciate the fans for supporting and believing that, someday, I might be like them,” said Valdez.