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HITS and MISSES: Oscar Valdez, Adrien Broner and More 

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  • HITS and MISSES: Oscar Valdez, Adrien Broner and More 

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    By Kelsey McCarson

    Boxing was in full swing again over the weekend, so there was plenty of action to consume via all the various television networks and streaming platforms available today in the United States.

    Most notably, the sport saw undefeated star Oscar Valdez establish himself as one of the top fighters in the sport against Miguel Berchelt on ESPN.

    Plus, several established veterans made their presence known again on the PBC scene in 2021 with their first fights of the year on Showtime.

    Here are the latest HITS and MISSES after another busy weekend covering the sport.

    HIT: Valdez's Epic Upset and Scary KO

    People often tout Mexico vs. Puerto Rico as one of the best rivalries in boxing, and it is. But there have been plenty of great throwdowns featuring Mexico vs. Mexico, and so it was again on Saturday in Las Vegas.

    Valdez, 30, was a former 126-pound titleholder who was moving up to challenge current 130-pound champion Berchelt. Heading into the fight, the bookies believed Berchelt, 29, would be too big and possess too much power for Valdez to overcome. Most boxing fans thought the same.

    Boy, was everyone wrong about that.

    Instead, Valdez showed he was clearly a step or two above Berchelt in terms of class, and that's huge considering that Berchelt was considered one of the top fighters in a stacked division.

    Valdez's epic upset and scary knockout vs. Berchelt stole the show this weekend. It put Valdez on the map as a legit star and will attract bigger and better fights to the undefeated Mexican in the immediate future.

    MISS: AB's Return

    Beleaguered boxing star Adrien Broner returned to action in the main event of a Showtime card on Saturday, one that seemed pretty much entirely dedicated to getting Broner back into the sport.

    Broner, 31, picked up his first win in four years against Jovanie Santiago by unanimous decision. That the talented American was going to be handed the win by the judges so long as he stayed upright over the 12-round fight was a given. That's just how boxing works.

    But what was also a given was that Broner would probably alienate himself from boxing fans and media almost immediately upon getting his foot back in the door. His post-fight comments were atrocious and they illustrated the biggest problem for "The Problem" himself.

    Look, Broner's life is probably better with boxing in it, but the sport is definitely better off without him. It's probably time for the powerbrokers in the sport to recognize that.

    HIT: Fluke vs. Fury Debunked

    Heavyweight contender Otto Wallin was the betting favorite against Dominic Breazeale on Saturday, but there were some in the sport who still wondered whether the Swedish boxer's near-miss against Tyson Fury in 2019 was just a fluke.

    Wallin might not have the same kind of wallop in his fists as ex-heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder, but the southpaw's wide array of skills were on full display against Breazeale in a way that suggests he might box the American's ears off over 12 rounds if given the chance.

    Wallin has now won two straight fights after nearly pulling the upset over Fury. The lineal champ required 47 stitches after the outing, and the fight easily could have been stopped by the ringside doctor because of all the blood. Instead, Fury rallied for the heroic win and Wallin continued his career as a potential contender.

    Wallin's stoppage win over Travis Kaufmann in 2020 and his decision victory over Breazeale on Saturday in the co-main event of the Showtime card prove beyond doubt he's one of the better heavyweights in boxing today.

    Any notion that Wallin's performance against Fury was just a fluke has now been completely debunked.

    MISS: Fast-tracked Olympian Needs to Slow Down

    Talented 26-year-old Josh Kelly lost his unbeaten record to David Avanesyan on Saturday in London.

    Kelly had represented Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and his fast hands and feet were shuffled quickly up the professional ranks to the point that he was challenging EBU European welterweight champion Avanesyan in the main event at Wembley Arena in London.

    Kelly got off to a hot start, but the brash 147-pounder was eventually overwhelmed by the 32-year-old EBU champ's constant pressure.

    Avanesyan is a solid fighter, but he's not elite compared to the world level. So, where some believed Kelly might be on his way to being something more than a British-level fighter, his handlers might have to rethink that after his loss to Avanesyan.

    If anything, maybe Kelly was moved too quickly up the ladder. Fans and media love pro fighters to take the biggest and best challenges available to them as fast as humanly possible but most people in those same groups quickly scatter when that kind of approach blows up in a fighter's face.

    Kelly might still have a bright future, but he'll need to slow his march up the rankings the second time around.

    HIT: The Circle of (Irish Travelers) Life

    Once upon a time, Irish Traveler and boxing phenom Andy Lee was brought over from Ireland to be promoted to the American audience as a top prospect with world title aspirations. While it probably took Lee longer than his handlers had hoped to live up to the hype, he did eventually score two dramatic upsets in a row to capture a world middleweight title in 2015.

    Today, Lee is guiding Irish Traveler and boxing phenom Paddy Donovan up the ranks, and his protege looks every bit the part of being Andy Lee 2.0.

    Like Lee was over a decade ago, the lanky southpaw carries with him into the ring on fight night a promotable face and name to go along with it but also the kinds of punches that make all that other stuff matter.

    In his own professional fighting career, Lee had famously moved to Detroit to train under the late Emanuel Steward at the legendary Kronk gym. While Lee will forever remain attached to the gym's storied history, the fighter was candid in his 2018 autobiography about some of the things he felt Steward and others at Kronk hadn't taught him heading into important fights.

    In fact, Lee didn't win his title belt until he left the United States to train under Adam Booth in England.

    So, the circle of life is this: Lee has the chance now to give Donovan everything he had as well as all the stuff he had to learn later the hard way.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel
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