Oscar Valdez: Making a case at being the world’s best featherweight
The 126-pound division boasts a lot of exciting fighters such as WBC titleholder Gary Russell Jr., WBA beltholder Leo Santa Cruz, IBF titlist Lee Selby and Carl Frampton. However, Oscar Valdez may just be the most exciting of the bunch and arguably one of the most entertaining fighters in all of boxing.
With a strong skill set, based on an outstanding amateur career that saw him make Olympic appearances in 2008 and 2012, and a go-for-broke, all-action style in the ring as a pro, WBO featherweight champion Valdez is must-see-TV for fight fans.
On September 22, the undefeated Valdez, 22-0 (19), will defend his title against undefeated Filipino challenger Genesis Servania, 29-0 (12), at the Tucson Convention Center, in Tucson, Arizona. The card will be part of a four-year deal that Top Rank recently locked up with ESPN that will see Top Rank fighters expanding their profiles and building their brands on the network.
The card will also see another world title fight in WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez, 35-0 (24), taking on Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart, 22-0 (18). The card also features rising Irish star Michael “Mick” Conlan, among others.
Anyone who has seen Valdez fight knows that he is about pressure, power and action, at all times, in the ring. Valdez looks to break his opponents down with a sustained body attack and then, after setting up his power shots, unloads the heavy artillery upstairs.
A good-looking native of Mexico, with an undefeated record, power in both hands and an exciting ring style, seems a sure thing for mass appeal among Mexican boxing fans. However, despite a world title and numerous thrilling performances in the ring, the Nogales, Mexico resident is still looking for that huge market exposure to build a stronger fan base among boxing-crazed Mexican fight fans to attain the superstar status that many have predicted for him.
And Valdez knows unlimited exposure on a huge network like ESPN might be the ticket to garnering the larger following he has earned and deserves. But in recent interviews, Valdez expressed the understanding that, despite some very impressive performances in the past, he needs to turn heads each and every time.
“Fighting in Tucson is special to me because I know a lot of people in that great city, so defending there is special to me. It’s a special treat for me and hopefully it will be a special treat for the fans,” said Valdez. “This will be my third title defense and, God willing, there will be many more. I want to defend my titles like all the great Mexican champions of the past. My opponent is tough and undefeated, which is a dangerous combination. I’m not underestimating him at all. I prepare in every fight like I am fighting the best. Fighting on ESPN is a huge honor for me. Being able to showcase my skills in front of a huge audience is extremely important for my career. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I grew up here. I love Tucson. I have family here and some of my best friends are here. I am so proud to be a world champion but I am fighting someone who wants to take it all way from in front of my hometown. That is why I am running harder, training harder, to win and keep my world title. The greatest thing about being on ESPN is that we will be able to show the world what all of us on the card are all about.”