LAS VEGAS – Oscar Valdez took the wrong approach to his fight against Adam Lopez in November 2019.

Valdez claims compassion cost him that night because the former two-division champion was a close friend of Lopez’s late father, Hector. Valdez recalled that a lack of aggression enabled Lopez to drop him in the second round and made their 10-rounder more difficult for Valdez than it should’ve been.

Valdez eventually won by seventh-round technical knockout. He knows, however, that he’ll have to attack Lopez differently in their 10-round rematch on the ESPN Pay-Per-View portion of the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko undercard Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena (10 p.m. EDT; 7 p.m. PDT; $59.99).

“I knew [Lopez] when he was a little kid,” Valdez told “I was very close to his father, Hector Lopez, may his soul rest in peace. He passed away a couple years back. So, I know the kid. And it was clearly my mistake, but I stepped into the ring with compassion, sympathy and love toward the kid because I was very close to his father. And I was just very relaxed inside the ring, thinking I would just win the fight whenever I wanted. That’s something you can’t do in boxing.

“You know, you learn from your mistakes. I learned from that one big mistake I made. I was very relaxed and he caught me clean with the uppercut. I didn’t see it coming and was sent to the canvas. I was very close to losing that fight. That only gave him more hope. He started believing in himself more and he actually started doing better and better.”

Lopez jumped at the opportunity to fight Valdez on extremely short notice nearly 3½ years ago.

Valdez’s original opponent, Andres Gutierrez, ridiculously came in 11 pounds overweight for Valdez’s debut in the 130-pound division. Lopez (16-4, 6 KOs, 1 NC), who was supposed to fight on that undercard, stepped in and tested Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs).

Though Valdez recovered from the abovementioned second-round knockdown, he trailed on one scorecard when he dropped and stopped Lopez in the seventh round at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (58-55, 57-56, 56-57). Lopez complained that referee Russell Mora stopped their fight too soon, with just seven seconds remaining in the seventh round, and has sought a rematch since that night.

“I have nothing against him,” Valdez said. “I told him personally [a rematch] could happen. ‘In the future, down the line, we’ll have a chance again to fight if you want.’ And he kept on asking for the rematch. Over the years I’ve felt I’ve gotten bigger and better fights and Adam was not on my mind.

“But after coming back from this injury, Top Rank offered the fight and I said, ‘Yes, I’ll take it.’ I took it because Adam Lopez is a fighter who gives it his best. And also, he wanted the fight. He thinks he got robbed in the fight and wants a chance to set things right, to show who’s the better fighter.”

The 32-year-old Valdez will fight for the first time Saturday night since Shakur Stevenson soundly defeated him in their 12-round, 130-pound title unification fight in April 2022 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The Nogales, Mexico native was scheduled to fight fellow Mexican Emanuel Navarrete for the then-vacant WBO junior lightweight title February 3 at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Valdez aggravated a rib injury early in training camp, though, and withdrew from that bout.

Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) instead beat Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs) by ninth-round TKO in a fight that was tougher than expected. If Valdez defeats Lopez again, promoter Bob Arum informed that Navarrete-Valdez will be scheduled for an undetermined date this fall.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.