By: Hans Themistode
Long before Oscar Valdez made his way up the 130-pound rankings, Miguel Berchelt was considered the best fighter that the super featherweight division had to offer.
From 2014 to 2021, Berchelt reeled off 17 consecutive victories in a row, 16 of which came via knockout. In addition to leaving countless bodies comatose in the ring, Berchelt would go on to capture the WBC super featherweight title, stopping former champion Francisco Vargas in 2017.
Thanks to the deleterious knockout power Berchelt displayed, many believed that Valdez would become another victim as the two squared off in the first quarter of 2021. But while Berchelt was viewed as the odds on favorite, Valdez made his doubters eat their words as he went on to punish the now-former longtime champion.
At no point did Valdez appear to be in any trouble as he outboxed his man early on before pounding him in the fanless MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In rounds four and nine, Berchelt was sent crashing down to the deck. In the tenth, with Berchelt already bleeding profusely from his open mouth, Valdez landed the fight-ending blow.
Before Berchelt’s lifeless body bounced off the canvas, Valdez screamed in joy as he knew he had officially stripped Berchelt of his championship status.
Vowing to bounce back in a major way, Berchelt opted to forgo the 130-pound division and compete as a full-fledged lightweight. In his first trip to the ring, Berchelt took on rough and rugged contender, Jeremia Nakathila, who was also moving up in weight. Despite the public backing of oddsmakers once again and regardless of Valdez rooting him on, Berchelt was pummeled before succumbing to Nakathila’s power in the sixth round.
A despondent Valdez was in utter disbelief as his fellow Mexican countrymen was battered and appeared to be a shell of his former great self.
Not only has the vicious beating Berchelt endured against Valdez seemingly changed him, but it also serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of the sport of boxing.
“It was a bit sad seeing him,” said Valdez during an interview with Mark Kriegel. “We fought before and I always wished him the best. The fact that I saw him that way that night, it was heartbreaking. It made me feel bad for several reasons. It’s not like basketball, it’s not like baseball. You can lose in baseball but you can always recover for the next season. These are punches, you’re receiving punches to the head. It’s a dangerous sport.”
While Valdez was devastated as he watched the former great champion stumble after every blow Nakathila landed, he’ll be apathetic towards his upcoming opponent in just a few short weeks.
On April 30th, back at the original scene of the crime, Valdez will attempt to render Shakur Stevenson unconscious on the night. Should Valdez emerge victoriously, he’ll successfully add Stevenson’s WBO title to his ever-growing collection.
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