Jose Valenzuela determined to shine in the spotlight

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Jose Valenzuela wants to make the most of his biggest moment to date.

The 22-year-old lightweight prospect will face Deiner Berrio on Saturday night at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield, Calif., his first main event on national television (Fox Sports 1).

Valenzuela, riding a streak of five consecutive knockouts, will be taking part in his first scheduled 10-rounder.

“I’ve dreamed about this moment since I was a little kid,” said Valenzuela, a native of Mexico who is trained by Jose Benavidez Sr. in Seattle. “Now I’m just ready to put on a show Saturday night and make a big statement. I have to let the whole division know that I’m here.”

He went on: “I love putting on a good performance for the fans and getting them up out of their seats. I’m a very active fighter, because I grew up watching and appreciating fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez.”

Valenzuela (9-0, 6 KOs) is coming off an impressive fourth-round knockout of Donte Strayhorn on Aug. 21, which was televised on Fox before the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas pay-per-view card.

He said fans will see a better version of him on Saturday.

“You’re going to see better footwork from me in this fight,” he said. “I’m a good boxer and I’m good on my toes, but I sometimes get bored of that. I like to fight in the trenches, but I know I have to be smart and use my defense also.

“I’m going to be using my jab and different angles in this fight. I’m not going to be standing straight up in front of Berrio.”

Berrio (22-3-1, 13 KOs) will be Valenzuela’s most experienced opponent to date. The Colombian has fought three unbeaten prospects, losing by decision each time.

“Berrio has a style where he fights off his back foot, gets low and then explodes with wild overhand rights,” Valenzuela said. “It’s a weird style and definitely a little awkward. I don’t think he’s going to be able to adapt and make the adjustments he’ll need against me. I’ll be expecting a lot of wide shots from him.”

He added: “I have to show everybody that Berrio is nowhere near my level. I can’t just win. I have to win in tremendous fashion. A knockout would be great, but the most important thing is to dominate and look-good winning.”

Valenzuela said he has benefitted from working alongside David and Jose Benavidez Jr.

“It’s a great experience working with the Benavidez family,” he said. “They always push me extremely hard and they really believe that we don’t have any limits. David is also a fast-paced fighter and I think that comes from the type of training we do.”

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