Former WBO Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez stopped a game Jayson Velez with 3-knockdown TKO in the 10th round of his debut at 130 pounds
Edgar Berlanger extended his first round KO streak to 14, and Issac Dogboe returned from his 14-month hiatus to stop two-time title challenger Chris Avalos
LAS VEGAS (July 21, 2020) — Former WBO Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez made his appearance in Top Rank’s Bubble inside the MGM Grand Conference Center with two objectives. The bout versus Jayson Velez marked the start of his campaign at Junior Lightweight. And, while the bout concluded Top Rank’s summer series, it also served as a means to set up a showdown between Valdez and WBC Junior Lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt. Velez vowed to ruin those plans.
Once the action started Valdez’ constant stepping backwards raised some questions concerning where he is with retooling his style. Valdez fired away with powerful shots often, but failed to find Velez as the taller fighter rocked side-to-side to evade the former champion’s power. The shorter 29-year old gradually found his target. He dropped Velez with left hooks in the fifth, and again to score the first knockdown in the final round. A follow-up flurry, with Velez still impaired, brought an end to an inconsistent night for Valdez. He gave himself a “7” for his performance in the post-fight interview, and acknowledged he would need to be sharper to give himself a legit shot at the WBC title.
Velez signaled to Valdez that his presence in The Bubble was to get a victory. He worked fluidly and scored a pair of body shots behind his left jab.
Through the first few rounds Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) continued to prod forward, looking to make contact and lean away to avoid the bigger shots returned by the former Featherweight champion who primarily looked to counter. Valdez managed to find Velez’ midsection with his left hooks, and in the fifth round a left hook left Velez stiff-legged before collapsing to the canvas. Velez calmly gathered himself before getting to his feet.
Valdez stood his ground more in the earlier part of round six. For the. second round in a row Valdez dealt with the effects of a cut on the side of his right eye. The taller Puerto Rican marched forward jabbing and looking to make contact and score with his back hand.
Valdez opened the seventh round aggressively. He connected, early, with another left hook to Valdez’ body. Gradually the action moved back to long range and the former champion tried to find openings as Velez pressed forward behind active hands.
Into the eighth the action remained back and forth. The fight still appeared to be within reach for both men. Matters became interesting in round nine when referee Tony Weeks deducted a point from Velez following a below that landed below the belt.
Valdez stepped it up in the 10th and final round. Velez walked into a left hook, after right hand to his temple, for the round’s first knockdown. Moments earlier a Valdez shot wobbled the Puerto Rican. Velez calmly watched Weeks count to seven before standing up to resume fighting.
Valdez moved in to secure the win by stoppage, and caught Velez with a series of shots as the hurt fighter totally lost his bearing. At 2:23 he dropped Velez again and Weeks quickly halted the bout. Valdez improved to 28-0 with his 22nd KO. The loss was Velez’ first defeat inside the distance.
Edgar Berlanger vs Eric Moon
After and early show of will, for some odd reason Eric Moon decided to settle on the ropes and allow Edgar Berlanger to close in on him and unload. Berlanger unleashed a combination of punches that culminated with a pair of right hands on the side of the crown that dropped Moon (11-3, 6 KOs). The clearance for the first right hand was set up by a quick downward rake of Moon’s guard with Berlanger’s left hand.
Moon was badly impaired and after he rolled over onto his left side the referee wisely stopped the fight. After just 62 seconds Berlanger extended his first round KO streak to 14 bouts to earn his 14th victory. Prior to the official announcement the New Yorker dropped down in his corner to complete a set of push-ups.
Issac Dogboe vs Chris Avalos
Issac Dogboe shrugged off 24 grueling rounds and two brutal losses to former WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrette to end his 14 month hiatus. Dogboe’s return marked a bout accompanied by D.C. trainer Barry Hunter, and a move to the 126-pound weight max – a division Navarrette recently moved to as well.
Two-time title challenger Chris Avalos (27-8, 20 KOs) awaited Dogboe in the new division.
Dogboe’s power started to take over the narrative of the fight starting in the third round. The 25-year old Ghanaian unleashed a damaging body attack, and started timing his patented lead left hook.
Avalos appeared to be ready go in moments in rounds five and six, but in key moments Dogboe’s attack faltered – to the chagrin of Hunter. In the eighth and final round he ran out of time. Dogboe (20-2, 14 KOs) landed a crushing left hook and right hook that buckled Avalos, and referee Russell Mora stepped in at 2:25 to prevent any further damage. Mora deducted a point from Dogboe in the fifth round for a questionable low blow. However, from the third round on the outcome of the fight heavily favored the former Super Bantamweight titlist.
Dogboe got back on track with his 20th win – in one-sided fashion. He stopped his two-fight skid, and he’ll move forward with more time in the gym under the tutelage of Hunter to attempt to fight his way into contention in the new division
Elvis Rodriguez vs Dennis Okoth
The DJ was so disrespectful! He let the needle drop on Mary J. Blige’s remake of Rolls Royce’s 1976 ballad “I’m Going Down” moments after referee Tony Weeks waved off the action. Super Lightweight Elvis Rodriguez abruptly closed the show with a straight left hand through the guard of Dennis Okoth. The left hand was the finishing shot of sharp second round 1-2 combination that was as seamlessly orchestrated as the platinum package selected at an automated car wash.
Rodriguez picked up his second sensational knockout in 19 days and moved to 8-0 with his eighth KO. Rodriguez looked comfortable settling into his rhythm versus Okoth (4-4-1, 2 KOs) who quickly became a bit gun-shy against the rangy 5-foot 10-inch Dominican.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank