Berchelt-Valdez figures to be an all-timer

LAS VEGAS — If you are a boxing fan and wish to do something to considerably assist the sport, the chance exists for you now.

On Saturday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) at the MGM Grand Conference Center, Miguel Berchelt will protect his WBC very featherweight title versus previous WBO featherweight champ Oscar Valdez.

Regardless of their records and flashing résumés — Berchelt is 37-1 with 33 KOs and is 9-0 in world title battles, while Valdez is 28-0 with 22 KOs and searching for a world title in his 2nd weight department — this isn’t a battle with a high profile.

Beyond the hardcore fan base, these 2 people aren’t especially widely known amongst the typical sports fan who doesn’t pay substantial attention to boxing.

The battle, however, figures to be so engaging that if they view, they might get connected on the sport for life.

This might be a modern Morales versus Barrera, or Gatti versus Ward. It has the prospective to be as action-packed and as violent as any of those bouts.

The battle is so engaging that Leading Rank produced a multi-part video series, “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” about it. It’s a technique that utilized to be utilized nearly solely for pay-per-view battles, however Leading Rank president Todd duBoef’s objective is to expose battles like this to the larger audience to attempt to construct the sport.

“We haven’t seen a match like this since Morales and Barrera [who fought a highly lauded trilogy from 2001 through 2004] where it was a true Mexican warrior versus a true Mexican warrior,” duBoef stated. “These Mexican fights, it’s in their DNA culturally to go out there and fight with great passion and aggressiveness, and it sets up to be one of the best matches we’ve had on the networks.”

Valdez, who has won fights despite competing with a broken jaw and who has gotten up off the canvas to win by KO, agreed.

“Every time you’ve got two Mexicans inside the ring, there’s always fireworks, so everybody can expect a great fight,” Valdez said.

WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt faces undefeated former featherweight champion Oscar Valdez on Saturday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt faces undefeated former featherweight champion Oscar Valdez on Saturday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

On paper, Valdez looks to be physically overmatched. Berchelt is two inches taller and has a five-inch reach advantage, and is just a thicker, stronger man.

But anyone who thinks that will impact Valdez doesn’t know him. This is a guy who has a pet alligator named Steve that he carries in his arms, so fear isn’t in his vocabulary. He’s recently added a crocodile to his collection of animals.

Valdez hasn’t had the truly high-profile fights, and has been frustrated by the way the business of boxing often works.

He sought fights with Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Gary Russell Jr., and others, but they never materialized. But everything aligned this time, as he moved from 126 to 130 and found Berchelt waiting for him. Both are promoted by Top Rank and the men, even though they’re friendly and frequent many of the same places in Hermosillo, Mexico, were eager to fight each other.

“It was always one thing or another and you know the politics of boxing,” Valdez said. “Those TV programs with PBC, ESPN and HBO and certain fights wouldn’t happen. But now we got this opportunity. Berchelt is with Zanfer and Zanfer makes fights with Top Rank, and it’s a great opportunity.”

Berchelt is verging on cracking into the mythical pound-for-pound Top 10 in boxing. There are a number of fights that Valdez could have taken instead of the one with Berchelt, but he wanted to aim for the top and face the super featherweight champion he felt was the best.

A win for Valdez would vault him up several levels in a sport where the fighters are under constant scrutiny for their level of opposition.

“The toughest fighter in this division without a doubt is ‘Alacran’ Berchelt, all due respect to all the other champions out there,” he said. “The most important thing I wanted, I wanted a big name [who would give me] a tough fight. Like I said, I think Alacran Berchelt has it all. He has the WBC belt, and I feel that if I beat Alacran Berchelt, it will put me in a high status [and get me the] recognition of a lot of people.

“I’m not just fighting bums. You know, in boxing it’s very easy to criticize. In the boxing world, and the fans, if they don’t know a fighter, they immediately assume you’re fighting a bum. I’ve fought guys like Miguel Marriaga, Genesis Servania, and all of those fighters had something in common: They didn’t have a lot of name, and a lot of people would consider them easy fights for me, which they weren’t. They were great fighters, but they didn’t have a big name like a Gary Russell.”

Promoter Bob Arum has put on shows for more than 50 years and he’s convinced that on paper, this match has the chance to be as good as most anything he’s done.

He repeatedly compared it to the 2001 classic first bout between Morales and Barrera, which was breathtaking in its ferocity.

“If you look at that first Morales-Barrera fight, one guy would punch the s*** out of the other guy and you’d think it was over and then the other guy would come back and do the same thing and come back,” Arum said. “It was an incredible fight that people still talk about. This fight is going to be like that. These guys are real warriors and to them, it’s almost an embarrassment to take a step backward. On paper, I cannot imagine this not being a Fight of the Year candidate. We’ll see how it plays out, but on paper, this fight is cannot miss.”

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.