LAS VEGAS – Oscar Valdez was barely five minutes into his junior lightweight title reign when his divisional rivals came to surface in demanding to get next.
With that came a warning shot from the unbeaten two-division titlist when he caught a glimpse of the evening’s other big winner, Gabriel Flores Jr. who stopped Jayson Velez in the 6th round of their ESPN-televised chief support.
“Don’t you dare try to call me out,” Valdez demanded, briefly breaking away from an interview with ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna.
Alas, the 20-year old rising contendere was merely an innocent bystander.
“Hey, I just want a picture with you,” quipped Flores.
The celebratory moment between the unbeaten junior lightweights was well-deserved. Both helped the other prepare for their separately slotted televised bouts on the Feb. 20 show at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Flores delivered a breakout performance with a stunning knockout of Velez, a former title challenger who was supposed to the young gun from Stockton, California.
The feat earned the respect of many who tuned in along with everyone on site. Understandably, it was overshadowed by Valdez’s tour-de-force performance in the main event in a highlight-reel 10th round knockout of Miguel Berchelt to win the WBC junior lightweight championship.
Flores had his time beforehand to celebrate his win before taking his place in a sectioned-off area for undercard fighters to bear witness to the main event. From there, all he and his peers could do was watch with awe and admiration.
“It was beautiful,” Flores told BoxingScene.com of Valdez’s fight-ending left hook which rendered Berchelt unconscious for several minutes. “He boxed beautifully and set it up perfectly. Oscar knew that Berchelt was going to open up and he really made it count. Domination from the beginning.
“I was cheering him on all night. I got to work with him a lot for this past training camp. I knew all the hard work he put in. He’s my guy and I was so happy for him. This is what he wanted and went out and took it.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox