Las Vegas, not Tucson, will be the site of Oscar “The King” Valdez’s (20-0, 18 KOs) very first title defense.
Sources close to the talks that were geared toward bringing a championship bout to the Old Pueblo were not at liberty to speak on the record about the details but cited various reasons why world title boxing won’t be happening in Tucson this November. An Oscar Valdez fight in Tucson remains a very strong possibility in the future.
“I can’t comment due to the fact that I don’t know what all his camp was dealing with,” said Steve Neely, Director of Marketing of Casino Del Sol. “I do feel that being the undercard of (the Manny Pacquiao–Jessie Vargas) fight is good for him and hope he does well with it. We, like all of Tucson, are rooting for him and are looking forward to his eventual title defense in the Old Pueblo.”
On Nov. 5, the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas will host an epic night of fighting. Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38KOs) will get in the ring with Vargas (27-1, 10KOs), a two-division champion, as the main event of the evening. Vargas will put his welterweight belt on the line as he tries to prove that the legendary Pacquiao is past his prime.
As part of a fight card that will feature four world title bouts in all, Valdez will face mandatory challenger, Hiroshige Osawa(30-3-4, 19 KOs) of Japan. Valdez is an orthodox fighter renowned for his left hook being able to find opponents’ liver and rendering them helpless. All of the other punches in his arsenal have rearranged the faces of Evgeny Gradovich (world class fighter in his own right) and 19 others along Valdez’s path to the top. Matias Rueda’s own nose was broken (both nostrils bleeding) before Valdez landed two left hooks to the Argentinian’s liver and won the vacant title.
Critics of Valdez have said that because of the title being vacant when he claimed it in such dominating fashion, his reign as one of the world’s best fighters does not have the luster it would if he had taken the belt off of a reigning world champion. Vasyl Lomachenko, the fighter who beat Valdez in the 2012 world amateur championships in Milan and considered to be Valdez’s arch nemesis, is the fighter who vacated the title that Valdez now holds. Fight enthusiasts the world over, want to see them fight as professionals. Either Valdez would have to move up in weight or Lomachenko would have to move down to make that bout possible. A Valdez-Lomachenko bout in Tucson would get fight fans all over the Southwestern United States, Eastern Europe and Mexico in a tremendous frenzy.
Based on my research and review of the tape on Osawa, Valdez should outclass the Japanese fighter with relative ease. While Osawa does have an impressive record, the level of competition he has faced to this point (from what I was able to see) is nothing like what he will see when he steps into the ring with, “The King.” All of Osawa’s bouts have been in Japan, except for his last one, where he defeated Yon Armed (12-7-1, 6KOs) in the Philippines for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title.
Oscar Valdez has the highest knock out percentage of any featherweight titlist in the history of sport of boxing.
The reason why fights are held at all is because you simply just don’t know. If Osawa can be Buster Douglas to Valdez’s Mike Tyson, then the fight world will have the breath knocked out of it. It is hard to imagine anyone in the Featherweight division outworking and out classing Valdez at this point in his career. The preparation trainer Manny Robles puts Valdez through makes it so that someone generationally special would have to be the one to take Valdez’s title from him. Legends such as George Forman, Mike Tyson, Juan Manuel Marquez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Timothy Bradley, Freddy Roach and others (even Nonito Donaire), have all marveled at Valdez’s ability. Osawa will be forced to as well.
“If you grew up idolizing Julio Cesar Chavez Sr, Corrales, Barrera and guys like that, you’re in the hurt business,” said boxing analyst Max Kellerman. “You’re trying to hurt your opponent. Valdez uses his skill to try to hurt the other guy.”
Oscar Valdez, who grew up in Tucson’s Barrio Hollywood on the west side, has had the remarkable amateur experience that catapulted him to such outstanding success in the professional ranks. Valdez’s world class training and conditioning, will make easy work of Osawa.
Another bout that will be held that night is Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs) putting his Super Bantamweight title up against Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17 KOs). Donaire is no longer training with his father, Nonito Donaire Sr. The coupling has earned Donaire five titles throughout his career, so it will be interesting to see how he comes out stylistically from his corner. His wife, Rachel Donaire is a former taekwondo world champion herself. With so much fight history and experience in Nonito’s life, he won’t come out for the opening bell looking clueless and lost.
The opening bout of the night is for a flyweight title that was vacated earlier this year by Juan Francisco Estrada. Three-time world amateur champion and Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming (8-1, 2 KOs) of China will face Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym (39-1-2, 24 KOs) of Thailand. This will be Zou’s second attempt to claim a title after losing a decision earlier this year. He already has a victory notched against Onesongchaigym in 2014. They each fought in Macau, China on the Pacquiao undercard.