By Miguel Maravilla
Former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez of Tucson, Arizona by way of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico returns to the ring this Saturday night as he takes on former world title challenger fellow Mexican Andres Gutierrez of Queretaro, Mexico in the headlining the ESPN+ card at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“I’m just excited to be back. Andres Gutierrez is a very tough fighter and he is coming with everything. I feel good and I’m just ready to give a solid performance,” Oscar Valdez told Fightnews.com®.
Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs) will be making his super featherweight debut.
Winning his first world title at featherweight back in 2016 in knocking out Mattias Rueda for the vacant WBO featherweight title and made six successful title defenses. Now he gets ready to move up and show he belongs with the best 130 pound fighters.
“This will benefit me a lot. My last fights I came in trying to lose weight. The healthier thing was for me to go up to 130. So I do feel this was the best decision I ever made,” Valdez said on moving up. “I feel healthier and stronger. At 126, after the fifth or sixth round I didn’t feel as strong. I felt I didn’t have any punch or energy.”
Coming off a hard fought unanimous decision over Jason Sanchez, Valdez had to put in work as that was his last fight at featherweight.
His fellow countryman and opponent Gutierrez (38-2-1, 25 KO’s) has had his shot a title as he came up short in his bid against Abner Mares two years ago back in 2017. Since his defeat to Mares, Gutierrez has won three straight fights as he is coming off a unanimous decision over Tomas Rojas. Gutierrez looks to stop Valdez’s quest for a world title at 130.
“Andres Gutierrez is a dangerous fighter. He’s been in with some dangerous fighters and he knows if he beats me. He gets a title shot,” Valdez said about Gutierrez. “I have to do whatever it takes to be victorious. He wants it just as bad as I do,” Valdez added.
This will be Valdez’s third fight under trainer Eddy Reynoso who has made a name for himself in recent years as Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s longtime trainer. Under Reynoso, it has been all smooth as the duo has displayed great chemistry.
“I definitely grateful for Eddy. He puts in the same time for me that I put in. I do my job and Eddy does the same. We train hard and we sacrifice our time. He has all the right in the world to be with his family but we are working good.”
Reynoso told Fightnews.com®, “He worked better this camp. He has sacrificed himself less to make the weight. I really feel that the move up in weight is going to help him. I feel you will see a rejuvenated Oscar Valdez.
Holding an 8 week camp in San Diego as they prepared for Gutierrez and what lies ahead at 130.
“I feel stronger and faster while I’m sparring,” Valdez explained.
“We are fighting a really strong fighter that lays it all on the line. This is a tough fight but with Oscar’s experience and conditioning, he will come out on top,” trainer Eddy Reynoso added.
Hoping to get past Gutierrez, there are some interesting matchups down the line for Valdez. Some of the champions at super featherweight include WBC champion and fellow Mexican Miguel Berchelt, IBF champion Tevin Farmer, WBA’s Rene Alvarado and Leo Santa Cruz (longshot).
“There’s a lot of names out there and we have to take it. Step by step,” Valdez stated.
Other names at super featherweight include Joseph Diaz Jr., and interestingly former world champion Carl Frampton of Ireland takes on Trevor McCrary in the co-feature.
“I would love to fight Frampton. That’s a fight that I’ve been wanting. Frampton is a big name but I want Alacran Berchelt and he has that WBC belt. That is my dream bout. There is just something about that belt. Julio Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales those are my idols they’ve had those belts and I’d like to do the same,” Valdez on potential fights.
“Frampton and Valdez are two of the best in the weight category. There’s a lot of mixing and matching we can do. Frampton and Valdez win that would be a great match, I’m sure Josh Warrington would be a great match too,” Valdez’s Hall of Fame Promoter Bob Arum told Fightnews.com®.
Let’s wait to see what happens this Saturday night.
“I have one guy in front of me I can’t take lightly. Andres Gutierrez, and first things first, then I can focus on Alacran (Miguel) Berchelt,” Valdez said. “I have to first beat Andres Gutierrez. Then I can look at fighting the top names,” Valdez concluded.
Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMaravilla