Oscar “The King” Valdez will be putting his featherweight crown on the line for a second time when he headlines a pay per view event at the Stubhub Center in Carson, CA on April 22nd. The life time Tucson resident will face mandatory challenger, No. 1 contender and NABO champion Miguel Marriaga (25-1, 21KOs) of Arjona, Columbia.
Top Rank Promotions had been trying to organize a homecoming title defense for Valdez ever since he captured the WBO belt on September 23, 2016. Top Rank Founder and CEO Bob Arum, Casino Del Sol executives, local promoters and even Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild were all involved with efforts to get a night of multiple title bouts to be held in the Old Pueblo on one card. Valdez being the main event. Sources close to the talks have described the obstacles preventing what would be Tucson largest ever boxing event as, “logistical problems.” They added that they, “expect an Oscar Valdez main event card in Tucson in the future,” and that they’re very confident of its eventuality.
WHO: OSCAR VALDEZ VS. MIGUEL MARRIAGA
WHEN: April 22, 2017
TIME: 9pm ET/PT
WHERE: StubHub Center Carson, Ca.
TICKETS: Priced at $128.50, $77.50, $52.00 and $36.70, tickets may be purchased online at AXS.com, by phone at (888) 9AXS-TIX, or by visiting the StubHub Center box office.
Breaking Down The Fighters
In Valdez’s second title defense, he’ll face a challenger in Marriaga that looks to be the greatest challenge of his career to date. At least on paper. In his defeat of Guy Robb in August of 2016 for the vacant WBO NABO featherweight title, Marriaga dispatched of Robb in the sixth round in devastating fashion. Showcasing an impressive display of footwork and accuracy throughout the fight, Marriagga had been steadily breaking Robb down all the way up to the end of the fifth round. As early as the second round, Robb looked to be out of his depth. It simply seemed as if everything Marriaga would throw was finding an unprotected part of Robb’s face or gut.
ESPN’s Dan Raphael describes Marriaga as, “a big puncher.” Yet, from what I’ve been able to see, Valdez has seen more devastating punching power in the ring before. Marriaga is deadly accurate, however and just as fast as Valdez. Still, he must possess some sort of punching power, to have KO’d 21 of 25 fighters. What I’ve seen has been the Colombiano wearing opponents down round after round with incredible accurracy until they simply breakdown.
In Marriaga’s last ten bouts, he is 9-1. Three were unanimous decisions (among them was the only loss of his career), four were clean KOs and three were TKOs. Five of those opponents came off of losses. Twice Marriaga fought opponents with losses in the double digits and one of those took him the distance. Only once has Marriaga fought someone comparable to the caliber of fighter he’ll face when he meets Valdez and it ended in a loss for the Colombian. Nicholas Walters was undefeated at the time he fought Marriaga (he later lost to Vasyl Lomachenko). It is the only blemish on Marriaga’s record.
Marriaga will have use his impressive footwork and punching accuraccy to take Valdez into the later rounds where “The King,” has seldom been. Valdez’s conditioning is as good as it gets in the world of boxing but Marriaga will have to have to take it the distance and use his impressive accuracy to win a decision. If he decides to trade blows at any point with Valdez, it can be a short night for Marriaga. The Colombian challenger can score in great volume, but he won’t be able to break Valdez down over the course of a fight to score a TKO or KO.
In an interview after his faceoff with Valdez, Marriaga said, “I have everything I need to beat Oscar Valdez.”
Valdez simply has his way with opponents. Oscar Valdez has seen, “big punchers,” from South America before. Matias Rueda was billed as a devastating puncher from Argentina with amazing power when he and Valdez squared off for the WBO featherweight title Lomachenko had vacated. Valdez humiliated Rueda on his way to the featherweight crown in what was said to be, at the time, among the best boxing performances of the year for 2016.
Allsportstucson.com has covered Oscar Valdez since January of 2016. The champ has been gracious enough to speak with us candidly about his career plans and the vision he has for his roll restoring boxing to what he says it once was. Valdez has mentioned his desire to only fight the very best challengers available and train as if his career could be over the next time he steps in the ring. I’ve written in previous pieces that if the day comes 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.
According to the great Jim Lampley, Oscar Valdez has the highest knock out percentage of any featherweight titlist in the history of sport of boxing.
That left to the liver always seems to get them.