Oscar Valdez beats Miguel Berchelt to win WBC junior …

LAS VEGAS – Many expected the WBC junior lightweight title fight between Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez to be a back-and-forth fight between two Mexican fighters on Saturday. The violence turned out to be mainly a one-way street.

Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs), a former WBO featherweight title holder and a two-time Olympian, scored a significant setback against Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) in the MGM Grand, shaking him with a left hook in the final second of the 10th round in an immediate favorite for knockout of the year.

Valdez claimed the WBC title from Berchelt, taking the biggest win of his professional career.

“There is nothing better in life than to prove people wrong,” said Valdez, who went into battle as a plus-240 underdog, according to William Hill’s Caesars Sportsbook. “I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out. I have a message for everyone: don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot.

“I am now so happy that I can almost do a backflip like Teofimo Lopez,” said Valdez, referring to the unified lightweight defending champion.

Berchelt, whose only other professional loss came via TKO in 2014, remained on his back on the canvas for several minutes, but was eventually able to sit and stand with help.

He was then taken to a hospital and Todd DuBoef, chairman of the Top Rank, told ESPN that he had undergone a CT scan that clearly came back. Berchelt would be released from hospital on Saturday evening.

The stunning walk-off shot may have eclipsed the fact that the much smaller Valdez dominated the fight. He scored knockdowns in the fourth and 10th rounds and was well ahead of all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the finish.

Judges had Valdez, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Arizona, with 89-80, 88-81 and 87-82 lead.

“Oscar Valdez proved himself to be one of the great Mexican champions,” said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank. “An absolute masterpiece in the ring tonight.”

The left hook and the jab were Valdez’s favorite attack, as he was able to deal with Berchelt’s aggression. He had Berchelt out of his kind from the opening round, shooting in and out with the jab, then surprising him with the left hook over the top. Berchelt looked like he wanted to counter with his signature strength, but he never looked comfortable with Valdez’s skill and speed.

In the third lap, Berchelt was more or less chasing Valdez around the ring. The third round ended with Berchelt running after him and jumping forward with shots.

Although it was not the strategy with which Berchelt came out, he did have its moments. He scored with power shots on Valdez’s body, and it looked like he would turn the tide in the seventh as Valdez repeatedly tied him in clinches to slow the pace.

But in the eighth, Valdez got back to his effective jabbing work and caused Berchelt to miss out on the ropes.

Round 10 was brilliant for Valdez as he opened with combinations and let the referee take a close look at Berchelt. The walk-off left hook turned out to be a fitting ending.

Valdez beat Berchelt 149-99 in total punches and 103-64 in power punch, according to CompuBox.

The win, which is Valdez’s third straight 130-pound appearance, could spark a junior lightweight title fight between Top Rank’s Valdez and Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), who was in the ‘bubble’ on Saturday and expressed interest taking over Valdez. Top-tier president Todd DuBoef said he would love to put on a fight between the two undefeated junior lightweights.

“I want to take this belt home, and I’m glad for that. Every champion out there… I’ve heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight,” said Valdez. “Let’s do it. I just want to keep fighting and give the fans what they want.”

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