Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) punctuated Top Rank’s final show of the month from “The Bubble” with a 10th-round knockout of Jayson Velez (29-7-1).
It was a great way to cap off a month of fights at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, although it was a relatively underwhelming performance up to that point.
The usually high-octane offense of Valdez took a backseat to a more measured approach early on. It was uncharacteristic of Valdez to be more of a thinking fighter, and Velez took advantage by landing the jab and forming a mouse under Valdez’s left eye.
Valdez started finding success with the left hook in the middle rounds but seemed as if he were holding back to become more of a boxer-puncher than a brawler. A hard left hook deposited Velez on his backside in the closing seconds of the fifth rounds and sent a message.
But Valdez was still a fighter who was caught between who he was and who he wanted to be. He struggled to find a sweet spot between styles and allowed Velez to remain in the fight longer than some anticipated.
Valdez put his foot on the gas in the final round and dropped his rival with another left hook. Although Velez would get to his feet, his legs weren’t completely under him. Valdez charged forward and landed a right hook that sent Velez into the ropes. Referee Tony Weeks had seen enough and called the fight off at the 2:23 mark.
With the victory, Valdez punched his ticket to face Miguel Berchelt for the WBC 130-pound title later this year in what should be an action-packed showdown. But Valdez knows that the version that beat Velez may not be good enough to get the job done against Berchelt.
"I've got a lot to improve on," Valdez said after being the first person to finish Velez. "Berchelt is a great warrior but I'm hungry and I'm hungry to be a world champion again. He's got what I want. May the best man win."
Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) kept his streak of first-round knockouts intact with a brutal knockout of Eric Moon (11-3). It was supposed to be an eight-round super middleweight bout, but Berlanga has never allowed an opponent to sit on the stool between rounds. This time, the 23-year-old needed just 62 seconds to turn out the lights with a vicious right hook that dismissed Moon from his senses.
Elvis Rodriguez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) showed again why he’s one to watch with a scintillating second-round knockout of Dennis Okoth (4-4-1) in a scheduled six-round junior welterweight bout. Rodriguez was coming off of a knockout of Danny Murray less than three weeks ago inside “The Bubble.” And he didn’t fail to impress in his encore performance.
Okoth was expected to be a durable opponent but was easily out skilled by the 24-year-old fighter from the Dominican Republic. The end came swiftly as Rodriguez darted a straight left hand between Okoth’s gloves and sent him crumbling to the canvas at the 2:33 mark.
Former WBO junior featherweight champion Issac Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs) stopped Chris Avalos (27-8) in the final round of their scheduled eight-round featherweight fight.
Dogboe hadn’t fought since losing back-to-back fights to Emanuel Navarrete, with his most recent being a 12th-round TKO back in May 2019. With over a year away from the ring, Dogboe took a few rounds to find his rhythm and shake off the rust.
Avalos, who has been in with the like of Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz, attempted to be the aggressor early but was turned back by the former champion. In the early rounds, Dogboe worked the body in an effort to soften up Avalos. However, the diligent work to the body cost him when he was deducted a point for low blows in the fifth.
The deduction didn’t deter the Ghanaian, who continued to touch Avalos at will. It appeared that Dogboe would be content to cruise to a decision, but he uncorked a pair of thudding left hands that put Avalos in deep trouble with under a minute to go in the fight. With Avalos’ equilibrium failing him, the fight was halted at the 2:25.
THAT is how you debut in the Featherweight division. 😤@IsaacDogboe was on point the entire way, and ultimately stoped Chris Avalos in the 8th and final round.#ValdezVelez | LIVE NOW on ESPN pic.twitter.com/bfwbMafmmn— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) July 22, 2020
Kim Clavel (12-0) pitched a shutout against Natalie Gonzalez (6-1) to earn a unanimous decision in an eight-round light flyweight showdown. Gonzalez fought hard but was overmatched by the undefeated Clavel, who cruised to 80-72 scores from all three judges.