Oscar Valdez: Making a case as boxing’s most exciting fighter?
WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez, 22-0 (19) retained his featherweight title with an exciting, action-packed unanimous decision victory over a very game Miguel Marriaga, 25-2 (21) on Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The exciting victory once again showed that Valdez is making a case to be tagged as one of the – if not the – most exciting fighters in boxing today.
The fans had already been treated to some strong showings in WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, who won a workman-like 12 round unanimous decision victory over Max Bursak, and defending WBO super bantamweight champion Jessie Magdaleno, who drilled Brazilian challenger Adeilson Dos Santos in two rounds.
However, nothing was going to top what was to come later in the main event of the Top Rank Promotions Pay-Per-View card. Valdez and Marriaga would treat the fans to a give-and-take war that saw both fighters throw everything they had at one another for a full 12 rounds.
As is the case in most of his fights, Valdez came out aggressively and was on the attack from the get-go. This style is what makes him one of the most exciting and dangerous boxers in the 126-pound class.
Valdez mixed in good shoulder and head movement along with overhand rights and crunching left hooks.
(Note to Valdez opponents: When Oscar loads up to punch, be ready because he swings for the fence with fight-ending intentions.)
Marriaga, who won the crowd over with his guts and tenacity, showed a chin that could take the heat and an offensive attack that, at times, had Valdez circling and using his boxing skills from the perimeter.
In an exciting 10th round, Valdez floored his Colombian challenger with a beautiful counter left hook in the midst of a strong surge by Marriaga. What followed was a very strong attack from the champion and an incredible show of strength and will from Marriaga to make it through the round.
The championship rounds saw both fighters going to war through six more minutes of intense action that had the crowd roaring.
In the end, the official ringside judges scored the bout 119-108, 116-111 and 118-109, all in favor of Valdez. While the scores had the right guy winning, the intensity of the challenge from Marriaga, who was dangerous throughout the whole fight, made the fight appear closer.
While fans were appreciative of the effort and character showed by Marriaga, there was no denying that Valdez had again made a case that he is one of the most exciting, TV-friendly fighters working today.
Sonora, Mexico’s Valdez has long expressed his desire to build his legacy and be seen as a boxer who wants to, and will, face the very best challenges available.
Immediately after the fight, Valdez told Marriaga he was “a great fighter” and that he “would be a world champion soon.”
Then, in his post-fight interview, Valdez told Top Rank’s ringside analyst Crystina Poncher he would welcome a fight against any of the division’s other champions, great news for fans looking for some featherweight championship unification action.
“I’m just happy I won the fight. I would like to fight the other world champions, (the IBF’s) Lee Selby, (the WBA’s) Leo Santa Cruz and (the WBC’s) Gary Russell Jr. I’m more than happy to fight them,” said Valdez. “I’d like to fight the champions and unify the titles.”