Editorials

Gold and Glory: Berchelt-Valdez | The Next Great Mexican War?

Miguel Berchelt vs. Oscar Valdez Final Press Conference

This upcoming Saturday night inside The Bubble at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, two fighters will step in the ring prepared to ring the bells of war.

WBC Super Featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) will look to make the seventh defense of his title against the undefeated Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs).

Berchelt, 29 years of age, has held the WBC title since January 2017, having defeated the likes of Jason Sosa, Miguel Roman, Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas twice. The lone blemish on Berchelt’s record came in March 2014 when Colombia’s Luis Eduardo Florez stopped him in the first round.

Similar to Mexican boxing icon Juan Manuel Marquez who lost in his professional debut, the one defeat has not halted Berchelt.

The 30-year-old Valdez once held the WBO Featherweight title and made six successful defenses, including victories over Miguel Marriaga and former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Scott Quigg.

Both Valdez and Berchelt have already been in tough battles giving them each experience as they head to face one another.

Valdez’s fight with Marriaga was a closely contested battle of attrition that showcased his power in the championship rounds as he scored a knockdown in the 10th round that sealed the fight for him.

Against Quigg, Valdez faced a fighter with more experience and faced real adversity finishing the fight with a broken jaw. Afterward, Valdez would have his jaw wired shut.

Berchelt has faced other Mexican warriors in Francisco Vargas and Miguel Roman in bouts that were all-out brawls that turned out in his favor.

The Los Mochis, Mexico native, understands what the bout with Valdez signifies.

The fight could echo memories of past all-Mexican wars like the Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales trilogy, the Israel Vasquez-Rafael Marquez four-fight feud, and the Carlos Zarate-Alfonso Zamora battle of knockout artists in the 1970s.

“I think when you’re in a ring, and there’s two Mexicans, the Aztec blood that we have in our veins will draw everything from within us,” stated Berchelt on Top Rank’s Blood, Sweat, and Tears documentary series. “And it’s certainly going to be a huge fight, like two trains colliding.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

“I feel I am the best 130-pounder in the world,” said Berchelt. “I feel I can knock out any opponent. And that’s how I’m preparing to win in a convincing way.”

Valdez has the same aspirations as Berchelt, to one day be mentioned in the pantheon of great Mexican boxers. They just happen to be in each other’s way.

“One of my biggest goals in life is to be on that list of the best Mexican boxers,” said Valdez on Top Rank’s Blood, Sweat and Tears documentary. “We got Finito Lopez, Pipino Cuevas, Zaragoza, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chavez and Salvador Sanchez. What do these fighters have in common? They all defended their titles. They all moved in divisions and beat legends.”

“For me to get on that list, I still have a long way to go,” said Valdez. “But this is my big step right now.”

Berchelt and Valdez don’t have personal issues like Barrera and Morales. Their fights were also battles of differing ideologies, with Barrera coming from a middle-class home in Mexico City and Morales growing up in what many consider the toughest part of Mexico in Tijuana.

Any issues between Valdez and Berchelt look to be purely based on competition.

While boxing’s sanctioning bodies have taken a massive amount of criticism over the last few years, the WBC title still holds a level of prestige to fighters.

“Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a WBC champion,” said Valdez. “He has it, and you can tell he doesn’t want to let it go. I’ve trained so hard for this moment. This is my time to shine, and this is my time to take it away from him.”

Berchelt and Valdez are two men that are prepared for what awaits them on Saturday night. They both know what is at stake as the glory of being the winner of the next great Mexican war is within their grasp.

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