Growing up in Tucson’s Barrio Hollywood, having attended Manzo Elementary, Maxwell Middle School and Tucson High (class of 2008), fighting at Casino Del Sol’s AVA will surprisingly be Thomas Valdez’s (17-3-2) first time ever fighting in the Old Pueblo professionally.
Using a childhood trampoline for backyard slap boxing sessions with his cousin, WBO featherweight champion of the world, Oscar Valdez at the early ages of 10, the two truly did grow up as an example of the term “steel-sharpening-steel.” Both began by training with Oscar Valdez Sr, and Thomas served as his cousin Oscar’s very first sparring partner as Oscar began taking the Olympic route for the Mexican National Boxing Team.
Comparisons are made and many have come to know Thomas as “Oscar’s cousin.” Which he seems to be fine with and will acknowledge with pride. Thomas is soft spoken with a reserved demeanor as he greets everyone in the gym. Everyone is met with a hand shake, smile and salutation as he walked into the Raging Babe Promotions Media Workout at Southwest Boxing Academy.
Once Valdez climbs through the ropes and the circuit timer sounds, he is no longer “the world champ’s cousin.” Observers grow silent, pull out their phones and just start witnessing the transformation from a soft-spoken gentleman, to a man who is looking for anyone to step in the ring with him for a chance to put their lights out. Valdez worked out through each round and even through the breaks between rounds.
“No breaks,” Valdez responded when I told him the timer for his first round of work was up.
With all that has been made about Thomas Valdez’s family ties, he quickly reminds you, as you watch him train, that he’s not new to boxing. Almost 10 years a pro, it is very evident that the Nogales trained, Tucson native is seasoned and he is perfectly in his element in the squared circle.
It’s been five years since Valdez last suffered a defeat. It came in the form of a unanimous decision in favor of Phoenix fighter, Victor Castro (17-0) who at the time was 10-0. None of the blemishes on Valdez record have been by knockout. Each loss and of course each draw, had been by decision.
The following video was shot in 2012.
There is a flip side to it all which should make the main event this Friday at Casino del Sol very intriguing.
For the last couple of months Valdez was set to take on Tucson fighter Jensen Ramirez (5-2-3) in a seven round main event. With Ramirez suffering a fractured ankle two weeks out from fight night, promoter Michelle Rosado was forced to scramble to try saving her November 17th, event.
Queue world class trainer of 10 world champions, Robert Garcia with prospect Luis Coria (9-1).
On paper, it would seem that not much has really changed for Valdez. Both Coria and Ramirez have (again on paper) half the experience that Valdez has.
“The game plan stays the same,” said Valdez when I asked him about preparing for a new fighter on two weeks’ notice. “I’ve been able to see film on him and see certain things,” Valdez continued, “but the game plan stays the same. Being the main event, the pressure’s on. All eyes are on you and you have to deliver.”
Coria has the same disadvantage as far as fighting on such sort notice. What swings at least some things in Coria’s favor however are what’s not on paper. Having Robert Garcia be the one to guide Coria’s raw talent day in and day out is priceless. The training Garcia puts his fighters through is world renowned.
Ten fights with a trainer like a Garcia, Roach, Sanchez, Reynoso, and the like, will immediately get you in front of most learning curves in professional boxing. Thomas Valdez has trained with Roger Mayweather at the Mayweather Boxing Club himself.
Since Valdez’s last suffered a defeat in 2013, he has not been as active as most fighters at this stage in his career. He’s fought 10 times. Valdez’s opponents have a combined record 98 – 152 in that time. Of those ten fights, two were draws. When it comes to the quality of opponents Valdez has faced, it seems he hasn’t faced much.
Valdez vs Coria is exactly the huge test both fighters need to validate to promoters, future opponents and fans that their careers are ready to step up another level.
This matchup should propel whoever has their hands hoisted in the end, into an extremely bright future.
Tickets for “Guerra De Gallos” this Saturday night at Casino Del Sol’s AVA are available online at Casino del Sol’s Web site, by phone at (520) 333-5150 or at the Casino Del Sol Gift Shop. The card begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
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