By Eric Lunger
Tonight, at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA, Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) took on British veteran Scott Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) in what should have been a WBO featherweight championship bout.
Inexplicably, the normally meticulous Quigg failed to make weight by such a wide margin (more than two pounds) that California Commission rules barred him from last-minute weight loss efforts. As a result, the Bury, Lancashire native forfeited twenty percent of his purse (ten percent of which went to Valdez, in addition to an undisclosed sum agreed upon by the camps), and the belt was not at stake.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
Valdez boxed carefully in the opening frame, but clearly landed the better and heavier shots. It was Mexican style from the two-time Mexican Olympian in round two, landing hooks to the body and uppercuts to the head. Quigg answered with a few counters, but Valdez had the better of the action.
In the third, Valdez continued to box and move, while Quigg came forward in half steps, leaving a target for Valdez to hit. Quigg, however, had some real success in the fourth, pushing his opponent back and landing some lead shots. Valdez answered with an eye-catching combination towards the end of the round.
The fight exploded in the sixth, as Valdez opened a cut over Quigg’s left eye, and Quigg staggered Valdez with a sharp right hook to the chin. Quigg flurried in an attempt to finish the Mexican champion, but Valdez weathered the storm. In the seventh, Quigg appeared determined to barrel through everything Valdez could throw, and, at one point, he wrestled Valdez to the canvas. This was the round that the weight differential seemed to tell, as Valdez could not slow down the bullish onslaught from the Englishman despite landing repeated power shots. Valdez continued to bleed voluminously from his mouth.
The seventh went more and more for Quigg who began to punish his foe. Quigg for his part seemed to have tasted Valdez’s power and found it negligible. The blood continued to pour from Valdez’s mouth in the eighth, and Quigg began to land clean shots on the Nogales fighter.
In the ninth, Quigg absorbed several uppercuts but just walked right through them. The Bury native landed plenty of his own shots, but Valdez answered with a late-round flurry. Frankly, the fight had become a bloody battle at this point, and very difficult to score. The tenth began with some brutal shots from Valdez but Quigg answered right back. The canvas at this point was literally splattered with blood.
The eleventh was brutal, as Valdez landed but his power couldn’t keep the heavier Quigg off him, and Quigg landed a nasty low blow. After a recovery period, Valdez blasted Quigg with a good shot but Quigg’s chin held up. The final frame saw some inspired footwork and boxing from the Mexican champion as he finished the bout bloodied but unbowed.
The judges scored the bout unanimously for Valdez (117-111, 117-111, 118-110). It’s been said many times, but there is a reason for weight classes. This was a size mismatch tonight that Valdez was fortunate to weather.
In the co-feature, undefeated prospects Andy Vences (20-0, 12 KOs) and Erick De Leon (17-0, 10 KOs) faced off in a ten-round bout for the WBC Continental Americas super featherweight title. This was the first ten-rounder for the southpaw De Leon, who was born in Mexico and now fights out of Detroit, MI. Vences, fighting out of San Jose, CA, knocked out his last two opponents, and was looking to make a statement on the ESPN national broadcast.
Vences is an active fighter, with quick feet and a frenetic left jab. De Leon is fundamentally sound and patient. The opening round was extremely close, but De Leon started to show some confidence and fluid movement in the end of the second, as though he thought he had figured out the distance to Vences. The San Jose fighter had the best of the third, however, landing some stiff jabs and a few combinations as well.
De Leon raised his activity level in the fourth, but Vences remained in control of the distance, and landed the more effective counters. The middle rounds continued in the same fashion, with De Leon unable to get inside Vences’ persistent jab and consequent distance control. This is not to say that De Leon was outclassed – he certainly was not, but Vences seemed to win these close rounds, in my view.
In the seventh, De Leon found a new weapon, landing a lead right hook and putting Vences in some momentary difficulty. Then, after some exciting exchanges in the middle of the eighth, Vences switched to southpaw, setting new challenges for De Leon. The final two rounds, however, saw some desperation from the Detroit fighter, but he was unable to penetrate Vences’ formidable defense.
After ten compelling and entertaining rounds, the judges scored the bout a majority draw (95-95, 95-95, 96-94 for De Leon). It is hard to see how two judges scored five rounds for De Leon, but there it is.