Mexico has one of the world’s great boxing traditions. But historically, this has not been evident much on the international amateur scene. Mexican stars generally serve their apprenticeships in the small clubs of Mexico City and Sonora, against older journeymen, rather than in the amateur ranks. Julio Cesar Chavez made his pro debut at 17. Erik Morales was 16. Canelo Alvarez and Marco Antonio Barrera were younger still–15.
So Oscar Valdez is not your typical Mexican contender. He competed in the Olympics in both 2008 and 2012. Still, he managed to do all that before turning 21. Now 26, he is entering his competive prime, 22-0 with 19 KOs and the WBO featherweight title around his waist.
He is a very good bet to become the boxing mad country’s next major star. While he shows the technical skill you would expect from a fighter with his pedigre, he is still an exciting, action fighter. There is something of Juan Manuel Marquez in his style–he is an aggressive counter puncher who applies pressure well.
Despite the WBO’s recognition, Valdez is still a contender rather than a true world champion. He has dominated some good, second-tier contenders like Chris Avalos, Evgeny Gradovich and Miguel Marriaga. Those are good wins for a fighter with less than 20 bouts but they aren’t the sort of resume lines that make a legend.
This Friday in Tuscon he fights Genesis Servania of the Philippines. Servania is the same age as Valdez, 26, and also undefeated–29-0 with 12 inside the distance. He has spent most of his career at super bantamweight, where he battered former title-holder Alexander Munoz in 2014, dropping him three times and stopping him in the final frame.
He is clearly a world-class fighter, though I will be surprised if he give Valdez a major challenge. There are some great potential fights for Valdez going forward–I’d love to see him against countryman Leo Santa Cruz or even Abner Mares.