On Tuesday, July 21st, ESPN broadcasted Top Rank Boxing featuring super featherweights Oscar Valdez(27-0, 21 KO) and Jayson Velez(29-6-1, 21 KO) headlining in a 10-round bout. Former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez is amidst a transition into the super featherweight division, whilst transitioning his fighting style as well. After getting his jaw broken against Scott Quigg in early 2018, he is evolving from a “stand and bang” fighter to a more calculated and defensively sound boxer. Valdez is a few fights into this transition, but such a change doesn’t come easily, or quickly.
Velez started the fight strong, using his reach advantage to keep Valdez at arm’s length. Oscar remained resolute and began using shorter punches to his advantage. Valdez realized that Jayson dropped his right hand after throwing, and was able to find a place for his left hook, which knocked Jayson down in the fifth round. At that point, Valdez became seemingly more comfortable in his own skin and more fluid in his movement. Velez did continue with bursts of success against Oscar, continuing his campaign on the outside but; late in the tenth round, Valdez could not miss with the left hook and was able to get Jayson out of there before the final bell. Oscar continues his trajectory towards Miguel Berchelt(37-1, 33 KO’s) in a super-featherweight WBC championship bout (yet to be signed).
The headliner was preceded by light heavyweights Edgar Berlanga(13-0, 13 KO) and Eric Moon(11-2, 6 KO). The fight was slated for eight rounds but it was inconsequential as Berlanga improved his first-round knockout streak to 14 straight. Moon’s plan coming in was to come at Edgar aggressively, but that plan was abandoned after Berlanga landed his first of many heavy blows. 56 seconds after the first bell, Berlanga had Moon against the ropes, buckled his legs, and knocked Moon to the canvas with two consecutive right hooks. Moon attempted to rise back to his feet but tumbled forward into a front roll, which was reason enough for referee Kenny Bayless to call the fight. There wasn’t time to learn much about highly touted prospect Berlanga, but his naturally heavy hands were on display. He was not overly aggressive and seemed to show patience against Moon, which may seem strange for a fight that didn’t last one full minute. We also learned that super middleweight should keep an eye on Edgar Berlanga.
Third on the card was an eight-round women’s flyweight bout between Natalie Gonzalez(6-0, 1 KO) and Canadian prospect Kim Clavel(11-0, 2 KO). This was Clavel’s U.S. debut, and she made it apparent as to why Canada was eager to get her on ESPN. She was able to outbox a very capable and game Gonzalez, earning high marks with her footwork, speed, accuracy, and overall fundamentals. It was a fun and fast-paced fight with Gonzalez tending to go for single shots, and Clavel using quick combos. Natalie rallied in the eighth and final round but; Clavel appeared to be just a level above. The judges scored the bout a unanimous decision for Clavel.
The second fight of the night featured welterweights Elvis Rodriguez(7-0-1, 7 KO) and Dennis Okath(4-3-1, 2 KO). Okath was used as a measuring stick, more or less, for the progression of Rodriguez’s career. Dennis has a rough record but was expected to know enough about the game to give a prospect a hard time. He didn’t. In two rounds Elvis showed us his exceptional distance control and fundamentals, ending the fight with a beautiful one-two from his typical southpaw stance. His jab split the guard and was followed by a powerful straight left hand that landed squarely on the front of Okath’s chin. After seeing the manner that Dennis fell, referee Tony Weeks immediately called the fight off.
The introductory bout featured former Jr. featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe(20-2, 14 KO) fighting two-time world title challenger Chris Avalos(27-7, 20KO) in an 8 rounder. This was Dogboe’s first time in the ring since his second devastating loss to Emanuel Nevarrete in the spring of last year. The losses may have been blessings; however, as they resulted in him switching his head trainer from his father to Barry Hunter. As was expected, Hunter seems to be focused on changing Dogboe from a come forward, aggressive at all costs fighter, to a more defensive, jab-heavy, and less emotional boxer. Avalos did not come to lose, but after Dogboe made it to the fourth round, he seemed to have found his groove and regained his confidence in the ring. Utilizing his jab and bodywork, Isaac ramped up his output and overall aggression until it became too much for Avalos. In the eighth and final round, a left and right hook to the body, followed by a grazing left to the head left Avalos with his hands down and gasping for air. Dogboe used this to his advantage, landing a quick jab followed by a sweeping right hook. This unanswered flurry was all that the referee needed to see, calling off the fight with 36 seconds left until the final bell.
Author: Dallas Owens