Former featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez is about for his second struggle as a full time junior light-weight, as he steps into the ring with Jayson Velez on Tuesday.
Valdez returns to motion in a non-title bout towards Velez inside “the bubble” on the MGM Grand Convention Middle in Las Vegas (ESPN, ESPN Deportes eight p.m. ET). With a victory, Valdez can arrange a WBC junior light-weight title shot towards Miguel Berchelt.
Valdez is considered one of a number of high fighters occupied with rising from boxing’s shutdown in a unique division. Former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson and junior featherweight Emanuel Navarrete are additionally pondering the place their futures lie. Is that this the suitable time to make the transfer up? And what are the dangers and potential rewards tied to every of those fighters trying to step up a division?
Nick Parkinson and Steve Kim are right here to reply some key questions on what lies forward sooner or later for every of those fighters.
With Oscar Valdez shifting as much as 130, how do you assume he’ll fare towards the titleholders at junior light-weight?
Mark Kriegel tells the story of how Oscar Valdez has overcome adversity, together with struggling a damaged jaw vs. Scott Quigg.
Parkinson: Fellow Mexican rivals Leo Santa Cruz and Miguel Berchelt are the largest fights Valdez may make, but in addition the largest threats to his unbeaten file. Valdez has been linked to Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) , the WBC titlist, and that struggle has all of the substances of a must-watch occasion. I barely favor Berchelt along with his expertise (he has dominated as junior light-weight king for the previous three years) and knockout file at 130 kilos. Valdez was additionally knocked down on his 130-pound debut towards Adam Lopez in November, earlier than recovering to safe a TKO victory. Santa Cruz, a four-weight world titlist, would even be the decide over Valdez. It will be a unique story if Valdez confronted WBO titleholder Jamel Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) or IBF titlist Joseph Diaz Jr. (31-1, 15 KOs), each of whom have much less expertise than Valdez in title fights.
Kim: Folks appear to be down on Valdez in the intervening time. The consensus is that he is completely broken items coming off that harrowing expertise in a victory over Scott Quigg in 2018, by which he suffered a fractured jaw. He has been a tentative fighter since then, although, and it is solely pure that he has been a bit hesitant within the first few subsequent outings.
However I have never given up on Valdez. His aggression and offensive arsenal make him very aggressive towards Herring, Diaz and Santa Cruz. Even shifting up in weight, he is a superior puncher to these guys. The one belt holder I would make a transparent favourite over Valdez is Berchelt. The 2 are scheduled to face one another later this yr. Many are writing off Valdez, however although I feel he is an underdog, I am not able to so simply dismiss his possibilities. There may be quite a lot of delight concerned on this struggle and Valdez understands simply how necessary this bout is to his legacy.
Ought to Shakur Stevenson keep at featherweight till he could make the unification struggle with Josh Warrington?
Shakur Stevenson stays undefeated after catching Felix Caraballo with a vicious blow to the photo voltaic plexus in Spherical 6.
Parkinson: Sure. I might have appreciated Stevenson to remain at featherweight and attempt to unify the titles. Stevenson is barely 23 years previous with 14 skilled fights, so there is no such thing as a rush to maneuver up, particularly as he’s but to make a protection of his title. Unifying featherweight titles is a logical subsequent transfer for him at this stage of his profession, as Stevenson has but to determine himself as the person to beat within the division. England’s Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs), the IBF titleholder, has made three title defenses, together with a powerful determination win over two-weight world champion Carl Frampton in 2018. Warrington, 29, desires a high-profile struggle within the U.S., and Stevenson suits the invoice.
Kim: No, as a result of this matchup merely is not possible. Sadly, the timing simply did not work out for this struggle, and as soon as Warrington made the choice to depart promoter Frank Warren (an in depth ally of High Rank) for rival promoter Eddie Hearn, that just about sealed the destiny of this bout. The truth is that with Stevenson nonetheless rising bodily, he wasn’t lengthy for the 126-pound division. The prospect for a unification on the highway would have been an incredible alternative for Stevenson to maximise on a really quick window as a featherweight titlist, nevertheless it wasn’t to be. Stevenson has mentioned he merely would not need to make the featherweight restrict any longer.
What are some good choices for Shakur Stevenson if he does transfer as much as 130?
Parkinson: Stevenson is younger sufficient to take dangers towards extra skilled fighters like Santa Cruz and reigning light-weight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, however he would begin these fights as an enormous underdog. Berchelt has the very best knockout ratio by fairly some margin among the many present junior light-weight champions, and he additionally appears an unwise threat for Stevenson proper now. Berchelt-Stevenson could be an incredible conflict of kinds, doubtlessly a extremely entertaining struggle, however “JoJo” Diaz, 27, and Herring could be higher choices for Stevenson if he’s weighing up threat versus reward.
Herring’s title struggle with Jonathan Oquendo was not too long ago postponed for a second time after he examined optimistic for COVID-19. Herring is just not as skilled as the opposite junior featherweight titleholders and can be promoted by High Rank, like Stevenson. The pair know one another effectively as Herring has labored with Stevenson’s trainers Brian McIntyre and Jacqui Spikes prior to now.
Kim: A struggle towards any of the belt holders at 130 could be anticipated matchups, and within the quartet of Berchelt, Herring, Diaz and Santa Cruz, you’ve got 4 very distinctive kinds for Stevenson to deal with. However a struggle outdoors that quartet of titlists that excites me is a showdown towards light-weight secondary titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who has held a 130-pound title twice and might be dealing with Santa Cruz (reportedly as a junior light-weight). Now there is a struggle that will have some actual warmth to it. Two fiercely proud younger skills who every imagine that they’re the way forward for the game.
Do you assume Emanuel Navarrete can carry his energy, velocity, consistency to 126? What are the 2 or three dream fights for him?
Check out Emanuel Navarrete’s dominance of the tremendous bantamweight division.
Parkinson: Sure. After establishing himself as the person to beat at 126 kilos, Navarrete can be a menace when he strikes as much as featherweight. He’s tall for junior featherweight and will not be missing in measurement if he comes up towards any of the present featherweight titleholders. As WBO junior featherweight champion, that group’s present featherweight titlist — Shakur Stevenson — is a potential struggle. It will be an enormous alternative for Navarrete to make a reputation for himself towards top-of-the-line at 126 kilos. A conflict towards both fellow Mexican fighters Eduardo Ramirez and Hector Garcia, who’ve but to struggle for a world title however are each among the many high 10 with the governing our bodies, would even be a great first step at featherweight.
Kim: That is the burden the place we’ll discover out about Navarrete. He was very lively because the WBO champion at 122, however let’s face it, a lot of his success was predicated on measurement and exercise. It is going to be attention-grabbing to see how that’s mitigated as he faces greater, stronger fighters. The most effective pure motion matchup that may be made for him is towards WBA “common” featherweight titlist Xu Can, who’s a punching machine. Then there may be Warrington, one other fighter who units a fast, lively tempo. Warrington would not punch onerous, however he places on constant strain. Each of those bouts could be entertaining battles.
Navarrete had the power to overwhelm his foes as a junior featherweight. However he is removed from excellent technically, and once more, not less than a few of his success needed to do with favorable matchmaking.
Does Ryan Garcia deserve the large cash and a title shot? Is his reputation sufficient?
Ryan Garcia exhibits off his spectacular punching expertise whereas carrying a blindfold and brings critical energy for some apply punches.
Parkinson: Garcia has put himself into an incredible place inside and out of doors of the ring. He’s presently some of the marketable boxers within the sport due to his social media presence — 6.7 million followers on Instagram, 418,900 followers on Twitter — which he has gained via video uploads fairly than his exploits within the ring. Do not blame Garcia for being standard although — boxing wants fighters just like the 21-year-old to draw a youthful era of followers, and he’ll quickly get the prospect to show if his expertise justifies the numbers he’s producing. Garcia is getting ready to a world light-weight title struggle, and whether it is towards Luke Campbell, England’s two-time world title challenger and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, we’ll discover out if Garcia has what it takes to be successful on the high stage.
Kim: His social media presence is important — to a level — however the query is: What number of of them translate into paying clients? It is one factor to comply with an individual on that platform, however what number of are literally paying shoppers at your occasions? His final struggle, a first-round KO victory over Francisco Fonseca on the Honda Middle in Anaheim, California was a sign that he’s a professional draw. To have an attendance of over 10,000 on a Friday evening in Anaheim is important. However on the identical time, that quantity is not even 1% of his followers on Instagram. So what does it actually imply?
With that mentioned, he’s an attraction, and he might be among the many brightest stars within the sport for the following decade. Maintain this in thoughts, he is nonetheless simply 21. However when your previous two wins are towards Romero Duno and Fonseca, you actually have not “earned” (for regardless of the means in boxing these days) a title shot. However ought to Garcia face Campbell, and defeat him, then sure, he completely deserves a title shot — and the dialog modifications by way of his market worth as a fighter. Being standard is significant in figuring out what you are paid, however there may be additionally an intrinsic worth to having an actual résumé.
Which fighter has taken essentially the most benefit of preventing inside the High Rank “bubble”?
Gabriel Muratalla, who can be a preschool trainer, unleashes a fury of punches on Fernando Robles, resulting in a first-round TKO.
Parkinson: Australian bantamweight Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) impressed in a methodical seventh-round stoppage win over Leonardo Baez (18-3, 9 KOs). Moloney patiently dismantled Baez, unloading thudding physique pictures and reduce his opponent over each eyes. It was an enormous alternative for Moloney to shine, and he took it. What was spectacular was that it got here two days after his twin brother, Andrew, suffered his first skilled loss to Joshua Franco in a WBA world junior bantamweight title struggle. Franco was additionally spectacular.
Kim: Definitely Clay Collard makes a powerful argument along with his two wins, however I am going to go together with Gabriel Muratalla, the punching preschool trainer who has notched two victories on the MGM Grand Convention Middle. First, Muratalla stopped Fernando Robles in a single spherical on June 11, after which received in 4 high quality rounds towards the powerful Sergio Lopez on July 7. High Rank has appreciated what it has seen, and it seems as if Collard can be signing a deal.
The 26-year-old Muratalla has proven that he is a bantamweight prospect that not solely has an incredible story however can struggle a bit, too.
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