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In the last 12 months we’ve covered the sensational year of Oscar Valdez. From Tucson’s Barrio Hollywood, to the WBO Featherweight crown, Valdez raised eye brows all along the way and in 2016, he served noticed, the featherweight division is the Oscar Valdez division. Stepping into the ring once every four months in 2016, Valdez’s managed to get recognition from all the major sports outlets that covered him.
Starting as far back as his professional debut in November of 2012, Oscar Valdez has not gone more than four months between bouts. On 10 separate occasions throughout the course of his 21 bout professional career, “The King” has fought on a one-month-turnaround or less. Valdez has simply devastated the professional ranks thus far, but he knows a career defining battle of epic proportions looms.
THAT YEAR! In 2016 @OscarValdez56 dispatched a former monarch in April, was crowned world champion in July and defended his title in November. -translation from Spanish by Bing
“Today, boxing is too much like pro wrestling. Which really bothers me. I want to get boxing back to a place when the best actually took on the very best. I want to fight the very best. I’ve always believed that to be considered one of the greats, you have to fight the very best,” said Valdez.
Valdez continued, “I don’t go into a fight fearing a loss. That’s not to say that I’m OK with losing. I mean, the greatest fighters of all time all have losses. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez all have losses on their record. Muhammad Ali suffered losses. That’s what made them great. They were in true wars. Those guys didn’t shy away from fighting the best of their time. They fought the absolute best. I prepare myself for that eventuality. I know one day my turn will come to be in an epic battle. It’ll be my turn to get in the ring with someone who will want to win just as much as I do. That day, it’s going to come down to who’s the smartest in the ring and who trained the best. So, I stay in the gym. I want my name to be mentioned with Duran and Chavez and them.”
Starting with Evgeny Gradovich in April of 2016, Valdez set himself up for a title shot for the vacant WBO Featherweight title of the world. Once he tore through Gradovich, Top Rank put Valdez up against (then) undefeated Argentinian power puncher Matias Rueda. Making easy work of Rueda in what perhaps was the most dominating boxing performance in 2016, Valdez earned his first world title in July of 2016. Valdez then went on to embarrass mandatory challenger Hiroshige Osawa and successfully defended his crown four months later in November.
If the day comes that Valdez does lose his first professional bout, it won’t be because he was out worked or under prepared. Unless he suffers an injury, it’s going to take someone being purely better than him on that given night for him to relinquish his title. Valdez couldn’t express enough how badly he wants to face other fighters who truly consider themselves champions. In the minds of many who cover this sweet science, Vasyl Lomachenko, Valdez’s nemesis and the last man to have defeated him going back to their amateur days, is perhaps the only fighter close in weight class who could beat Valdez. I have to agree. Valdez is chomping at the bit for that chance.
If we go by what Valdez’s career trend has been, we should be expecting another Oscar Valdez title defense soon. Perhaps as early as February or March. Having had the chance to speak with the man personally over the course of the last year, Valdez seems hungrier and has more of a sense of urgency today than he did while he was working his way to the top. Pity the next man who faces him.
ESPN Deportes crowned Valdez, “Fighter of the Year.”
Univision Deportes nominated Valdez, “Fighter of the Year,” as well.
In an unofficial poll conducted by ESPN’s Salvador Rodriguez, Valdez beat Canelo Alvarez 28% when he posed the question, “Who to you is the best Mexican Fighter of 2016.” Unofficial and unscientific it may be. Though it serves to show how much Valdez has endeared himself to Latinos world wide.
Jose Roman Jr. was born a Wildcat fan, lifetime fanhood was solidified when he was able to meet Tedy Bruschi, Sean Harris, Brandon Sanders, Chuck Levy and Ontiwaun Carter as a sixth grader. Having served 10 years in the armed forces and been deployed all over the world, he’s still managed to make it to every Arizona home football game, bowl game and at least one away game for the last 12 years. Now combining his love of writing with his love of all things sports, Jose is proud and honored to join AllSportsTucson.com as a writer.