There`s an icy calm rectitude in the demeanour of Miguel “Alacran” Berchelt as he declares: “Six men have come and tried to take my WBC super featherweight title and six have failed, because I`ve beaten them all. There`s absolutely no chance Oscar Valdez is going to take away my title…I`m going to KO him!
There`s a fiery restless energy coursing through Oscar Valdez as he says: “I can almost touch it, I can almost feel it. I`m going to be the WBC Champion. I am the most motivated that I can be!”
Miguel Berchelt (38-1, 34 KO`s) defends his World Boxing Council super featherweight title for the seventh time, live on ESPN, this Saturday February 20th at The Bubble, located at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, against former featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KO`s). This contest encapsulates and embodies all the prerequisites of a contemporary classic. Fans hope it`ll be The Fight Of The Year!
Oscar wants it to emulate and punctuate the passion embracing the trilogy of Mexican Wars between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. In the excellent Top Rank documentary entitled: “Blood, Sweat And Tears,” he says these two were his childhood heroes, and not Batman! Even now when he watches their titanic contests, he has to do so before 8pm, because after that, he just can`t sleep, because of the adrenaline rush, pumping through his veins. Miguel`s ambition is to surpass Julio Cesar Chavez`s record of nine successful defenses in this division.
Although there`s mutual respect between Miguel and Oscar, there`s also a degree of irritable needle, which is inevitably stinging. It was Oscar who was the number one featherweight when they were amateurs. It was Oscar and not Miguel who went to the Olympics. Oscar qualified for the Summer Games in 2008 and in 2012. In 2008 Oscar won the first Youth Amateur Boxing Championships and a year later he won a bronze in the World Amateur Boxing Championships. Strangely, even though they were contemporaries, they didn`t fight as amateurs? But in the professional ranks, that`s soon going to be put right, with nothing left to chance!
Miguel insists that he`s better suited to the pro ranks and that he`s the natural super featherweight. Oscar is climbing up from the featherweight division, although he`s no stranger to this category. In 2013 he fought six times as a super feather, winning all within the distance.
Both have overcome trials and tribulations in the ring. Early in his career, Miguel was knocked down from a big left hook by Luis Eduardo Florez and the referee stopped the fight. In the fifth round, during the fourth defense of his WBO featherweight crown, Oscar`s jaw was broken, courtesy of a Scott Quigg left hook. Oscar returned the favor, by breaking Scott`s nose.
Oscar soldiered on bloodied with intense pain to win a UD. Scott who`d injured his ankle in a training run and hadn`t been able to do any last minute jogging, had come in three pounds over the limit, at the weigh in. Miguel now ominously says: “Let`s see Oscar`s jaw can withstand the heavy punches from the Champion?!” Oscar retorts: “It`s going to be a game of chess in the ring.”
Miguel has been training in Los Mochis, alongside Juan Franciso “Gallo” Estrada and Yamileth “Yeimi” Mercado, guided by excellent Coach Alfredo Caballero. While five hundred miles away, Oscar has been preparing in Guadalajara alongside Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, trained by marvelous Coach Eddy Reynoso. This will be a war of attrition, but also attention to detail, via a strategy guile guide between Alf and Eddy.
It was going to happen in December, but the bumper Christmas present was postponed because in November Miguel tested positive for Covid 19. Miguel insists he`s since fully recovered and is back to total fighting fitness. Not unnaturally Oscar was disappointed, but didn`t take long to re-focus, with re-doubled determination.
Considering the physical aspects of the two, Miguel aged 29, is the taller and more robust. He stands five feet seven inches tall and has a long seventy one and a half inch reach. Oscar aged 30, is five feet five inches tall and has a sixty seven inch reach. Oscar is the faster on his feet. Miguel appears physically stronger.
One of Miguel`s most brilliant victories came against fearsome former champion Takashi Miura, who`d defeated Jorge Perez, then Gamiel Diaz for the title, Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson, Dante “Crazy” Jardon and Edgar Puerta, until Francisco “Bandido” Vargas stopped him in his tracks, during the ninth round of an extraordinary war.
Miguel went on to defeat Bandido for the title, stopping him in eleven, and then bloodied him again for it to be stopped during the sixth of the return.
When he came to Mexico City prior to fighting Miura, I asked Miguel how he was going to handle the Takashi onslaught. He smiled and replied: “Takashi Miura is brave and his tough, but I`m going to fight a lot smarter!” And so he did, dropping Miura in the first round and then going on to win a convincing UD.
Oscar hasn`t really been tested in the WBC ranks until now, but coming into this super fight, he is undefeated.
It`s understood, well known, revered and relished that when two Mexicans are involved in a boxing match, especially as spectacular as a World Boxing Council fight for the Absolute Crown, there`s going to be fireworks, dynamite and high octane ignitions, resulting in a mighty explosion of power and glory.
Due to their skillset levels and the keenly matched division of competition, this particular fight will prove an exactingly ordeal for both Miguel and Oscar. They`ll be tested as they`ve never been tested before. Each man knows full well, that he`s embarking on uncharted territory. It will push both to the absolute and extreme inner edges plus limits of determination, resourcefulness and resolve.
Losing, hasn`t crossed the mind of either Miguel or Oscar. In the true warrior ethos reserved for great Mexican fighters, neither for one moment will contemplate giving up or giving in, but inevitably… there will be give and take. One man will win and another will lose, in a fight to remember… and with awe!
Then, in years to come there will be a mellowing, as the raging fire diminishes and subsides into the glow of middle age, and they`ll become friends, just like Erik and Marco did, even though they`ll be putting the gloves back on for a fourth less intense meeting in the non too distant future.
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