Junior lightweights Oscar Valdez and Jayson Velez had the honor of closing Top Rank’s final boxing card during its biweekly summer series inside the MGM Grand’s Grand Ballroom.
Valdez made sure to go out with a bang.
Valdez punctuated the promotion’s 13th local card during the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday night with a 10th-round technical knockout over Jayson Velez.
Valdez, a former WBO featherweight champion, knocked Velez down with a sweeping left hook in the fifth round and salvaged a mediocre showing with two consecutive knockdowns late in the final round, prompting a stoppage from referee Tony Weeks at the 2:23 mark.
Top Rank is set to return in August to its bubble setting inside the hotel with championship-caliber fights. In fact, Valdez (28-0, 22 knockouts) positioned himself to fight WBC junior lightweight Miguel Berchelt, perhaps in the fall.
“That’s definitely the fight I want. That’s the fight the fans want,” the 29-year-old Mexican said. “I’m definitely up for it. I want to give the fans what they want, which is a good fight.”
Top Rank began its summer series June 9 and had two cards a week at the MGM Grand inside a virus-free bubble site. Some cards were more compelling than others, and Tuesday’s was one of those more compelling ones — featuring four knockouts, including one in the first round by super middleweight Edgar Berlanga in the co-feature.
Valdez followed in the main event, but was admittedly “rusty” against the 32-year-old Puerto Rican, who won rounds on all three scorecards and evaded punishment early in the fight.
“Boxing, you never stop learning, and there’s always something new to learn,” Valdez said. “I do feel I’m improving in the gym. I still have to prove it inside the ring. I rate myself a seven. It wasn’t that great due to the long period that I was resting, but I’m ready to go back in the gym and keep on working.”
Valdez broke through in the fifth round with a left hook and began to wear down Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) in the later rounds, finishing the fight with a short left and long right that both resulted in knockdowns.
Valdez landed 138 punches to Velez’s 16 and 29 percent of his punches to Velez’s 12 percent.
Berchelt (37-1, 34 KOs) looms as one of the sport’s most ferocious fighters.
“Berchelt is a great warrior. A great champion. I’ve got nothing but respect for him,” Valdez said. “But I’m hungry. I’m hungry to be a world champion again. He has something that everybody wants, and that’s the WBC world title. That’s my aim right now.”
Top Rank undercard
— In the co-feature, super middleweight Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) knocked out Eric Moon (11-2, six KOs) 1:02 into the first round. Berlanga has won all of his fights by first-round knockout.
— Welterweight Elvis Rodriguez (8-0-1, eight knockouts) dropped Dennis Okoth (4-4-1, two KOs) 2:33 into the second round for a knockout victory.
— Light flyweight Kim Clavel (12-0, two KOs) rolled to an 80-72 unanimous win over Natalie Gonzalez (6-1, one KO).
— Former WBO super bantamweight champion Isaac Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs) stopped Chris Avalos (27-8, 20 KOs) 2:25 into the eighth round to win his first featherweight fight since 2016.