Oscar Valdez became one of the first class of 2012 Olympic boxers to sign a contract with a manager, as they embark on their professional careers. On Tuesday afternoon, Valdez inked a deal with Frank Espinoza that will see the respected manager guide his career for the next five years.
“I'm excited, man. Me and my dad are real excited to work with Frank. I heard very good things with him and he's popular for being straight up with his boxers. I think we made a real good choice signing with him,” Valdez told Maxboxing on Tuesday evening, just hours after he made his pact official.
Valdez not only represented Mexico in this past Summer Games in London but as a 17-year old, he represented his country in 2008 in Beijing. He comes with the requisite amateur pedigree, winning medals in various international competitions and he ended his days in the unpaid ranks earlier this month in the Olympics by winning his first two contests before losing to John Joe Nevin of Ireland. In many respects, this fight was a microcosm of how Valdez’s style is much better suited for the pro game. After falling behind in the first two rounds, Valdez - who has heavy hands and a bruising body attack - came on strong in the final frame, even scoring a knockdown of the Irishman with a left hook downstairs. He still fell short by the score of 19-13 but you got the sense if that fight went much longer, it was Valdez who would've taken full control.
Like most Mexicans, his boxing identity should translate better at the next level.
“It was a good experience being an amateur. I think I learned a lot from being in the amateurs; it was way different from the pros but my style is for the pro world. So I learned a lot from the amateurs; I fought a different style but I think in the pros, my style will be good for me,” said Valdez, who grew up in the border town of Sonora and is bilingual. “I had a nice run in the amateurs; I did a lot of history for my Mexican people. So my dream as an amateur is finished and another dream is now coming as a pro. So I start a new dream to become a world champion.”
Valdez is just 21 years old, which made him appealing to Espinoza, best known for managing the likes of Abner Mares and for guiding Israel Vazquez and Martin Castillo to world titles during their careers. Espinoza had targeted Valdez for quite a while. He told Maxboxing, “I had a great rapport with his father from the beginning and I think it was that. We had a great understanding, a great friendship. I think it grew into a big bond, so I think having that with the father and getting to know Oscar, we all came together like a family and we're going to work like a family and a team. Frank Jr., I want to mention him; he played a big role in this too.”
According to Espinoza, his son was instrumental in cultivating the relationship with the Valdezs the past several months, keeping the lines of communication open during this process. There is still the business of situating Valdez with a promoter. Espinoza says that will soon be taken care of and a pro debut for Valdez will be scheduled for him later this year. Regardless of where his signee lands, the manager believes he has a fighter whose best days as a boxer are in front of him.
“When I saw him, he had that pro style, which is what I look for and I know that he will be a future world champion with that style he has. He has a fan-pleasing style; I think he's going to be a Mexican sensation. He's got charisma; he's got everything. He's the full package,” said Espinoza of perhaps the highest profile signing he's ever had out of the amateurs.
Valdez says he will begin his career competing in the super bantamweight class.
“I feel strong in that weight class. I think I'll do real good,” he says. “So I'm going to start from there and who knows? Maybe I can be in a different weight class.”
This is a win-win for everyone involved (especially fight fans in Southern California, who can now see both the Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado/Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka doubleheader at the Home Depot Center on October 13th and Mares-Moreno two week later in person). Finally, some common sense has been used in this ever-growing “Cold War” between Golden Boy and Top Rank, where it seems Showtime and HBO have clearly taken sides.
So why was it used in this instance and not September 15th? Well, I think the fact that this particular weekend wasn't a Mexican holiday and therefore a traditional pay-per-view slot had a lot to do with it.
Espinoza, who certainly has a horse in this race, says, “I'm glad this move was made and that Abner now gets to fight in front of his home fans. It's a great little fight and I'd hate for it to be overshadowed by anything else. I think this is really good for the fighters and the fans.”
HUMP DAY FLURRIES
Interim WBO middleweight titlist, Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam will face Peter Quillin on October 20th at the Barclays Center as part of Showtime's tripleheader that evening in Brooklyn. Folks, I think this is a pick 'em fight...Speaking of which, Stephen Espinoza says the October 27th broadcast on Showtime will feature two other fights...HBO has a 'Boxing After Dark' show on that same evening that could be headlined by Thomas Dulorme...Top Rank is approximately 2,000 tickets away from a complete sell-out for the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez card at the Thomas and Mack Center...The statue in front of the Staples Center for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is well-deserved. It's a long time coming...The Jim Mora era starts for UCLA today. Win or lose, the press conferences will always be lively...I like Vandy to give South Carolina all they can handle in the season opener...That's pretty ironic; Allen Pinkett believes the Catholics need more convicts at Notre Dame to compete in football (http://espn.go.com/chicago/ncf/story/_/id/8314224/allen-pinkett-notre-dame-fighting-irish-need-bad-citizens-win)...