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LAS VEGAS — Oscar Valdez put on the performance of his young life on Saturday, pummeling Miguel Berchelt and knocking him out cold with a crushing left hook at the end of the 10th round.
Valdez lifted the WBC super featherweight belt from Berchelt at the MGM Grand Conference Center, showing speed and power and a total game.
It could set up a fight with WBO champion Shakur Stevenson, who sat ringside and said, “That’s the only fight to make now.”
Valdez’s speed helped him build an early lead, but he was also consistently hurting Berchelt with a quick left hook.
He scored a knockdown in the fourth when referee Russell Mora ruled the ropes held Berchelt up. Berchelt started to turn the tide late in the sixth when he was using his jab and slowing Valdez’s attack.
“Really surprised, but he used his boxing very well and he looked good,” Stevenson said.
Valdez trainer Eddy Reynoso said his fighter was disciplined in camp and worked on negating Berchelt’s inside game.
He said that Valdez was able to use his speed to land those left hooks that consistently did damage.
“Berchelt is very dangerous when he’s close to you so the strategy was to tie him up when he got inside,” Reynoso said.
Berchelt, being the champion he is, mounted a rally at the midpoint by pushing Valdez back and stunning him with a hard jab. He seemed to be turning the fight in his direction, but Valdez began to create space and it instantly opened room for his left hook.
The left was the money punch that ended the fight. They were in a neutral corner as the seconds in the 10th wound down. Valdez landed a short, quick hook on the point and Berchelt was instantly out. He did not move for several seconds and had to be assisted into a seated position.
“He was absolutely brilliant,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said of Valdez. “He fought his entire career for us and that was the best he’s ever looked.”
It was a fight that lived up to its billing, but Valdez made a huge point.
“There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong,” he said. “I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out. I have a message to everybody: Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.”
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