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Andres Cortes Aims to Make Another Big Statement on Top Rank’s Big MGM Show

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  • Andres Cortes Aims to Make Another Big Statement on Top Rank’s Big MGM Show

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Cortes2.PNG Views:	0 Size:	438.5 KB ID:	21269

    By Arne K. Lang

    Undefeated 130-pound world title-holders Oscar Valdez and Shakur Stevenson clash on Saturday in a Top Rank promotion at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It’s a very attractive pairing between two former Olympians, neither of whom has tasted defeat at the pro level. At age 24, Stevenson is already recognized as a defensive wizard on peer with the late, great Pernell Whitaker. Valdez, 31, who like Shakur has won titles in two weight classes, currently holds the WBC belt, a diadem he won with a smashing upset of Miguel Berchelt in one of the best fights of 2021.

    Andres Cortes, who appears on the undercard, aspires to get to their level. The undefeated (16-0, 9 KOs) Cortes is appearing on his fifth Top Rank card and making his first start as a Top Rank fighter. After paying his dues as a free agent, fighting on Top Rank shows on a fight-to-fight basis, Top Rank roped him into the fold last month with a multi-fight contract.

    As an amateur, Cortes, 24, won two of three from Teofimo Lopez. Back in 2015, he advanced to the finals of a national tournament where he lost a split decision to Devin Haney. He won’t say the decision was unfair but implies as much when he says that amateur boxing is riddled with politics: “It’s hard to win a fight that you are not supposed to win.”

    Cortes was born in North Las Vegas and attended high school in nearby Henderson. During the Great Recession of 2008-2010, his father lost his job and moved to North Dakota which prospered during the economic downturn, uplifted by the discovery of new oil deposits. There he started his own construction business, pumping the profits into an avocado farm in the Mexican state of Colima, his birthplace.

    Cortes was under the radar as an amateur. No promoter came calling. But he caught the eye of Floyd Mayweather Jr while sparring with Gervonta Davis, the gem of Floyd’s little stable.

    “I sparred with him twice,” recalls Cortes, “four rounds and then eight rounds. Floyd was much more hands-on with Gervonta back then and watching closely.”

    Cortes had seven of his early fights at Sam’s Town, a locals-oriented Las Vegas casino where Mayweather Promotions was running a series of bi-monthly shows. The shows were discontinued during the pandemic and haven’t yet been resumed. Cortes needed a change of promoter to keep his career on a steady course. He left Mayweather with no hard feelings on either side.

    Cortes’s first fight with Top Rank was in the MGM “Bubble’ and it proved to be a hard fight. Cortes got off the deck to win a unanimous decision over Alejandro Salinas. Two fights later he had his breakout moment, a first-round knockout of Genesis Servania.

    Servania, a 29-year-old Filipino, sported a 34-2 record and was a former world title challenger. His only losses had come at the hands of the aforementioned Valdez and Carlos Castro who was undefeated, 21-0. He had never been stopped.

    Servania lasted only one round. Cortes knocked him sideways with a right hand to the ear and finished the job with a sweeping left hook, knocking the Filipino to the canvas where he lay with his upper torso splayed under the ropes. Referee Jack Reiss started his count before realizing there was no point in continuing it. Servania was done.

    The Top Rank brass undoubtedly thought about signing Cortes right then and there, but vacillated. A third-round stoppage of Mark Bernaldez in Andres’s next outing sealed the deal.

    Cortes is trained and managed by his older brother Luis, a former amateur boxer who never turned pro. Luis notes that his job is made easier because his little brother has no bad habits. He has never touched a drop of alcohol, neither beer, nor wine, nor liquor. “It never appealed to me,” he says. “Besides, I would be afraid to try it while I was still boxing. What if I liked it?”

    Routinely carrying 132 pounds on his five-foot-seven frame, Cortes is a “tweener,” neither a junior lightweight nor a full-fledged lightweight. As he looks toward the future, he envisions becoming a two-division champion, winning his first belt at 130 before moving up.

    The next hurdle on the road to implementing that goal arrives Saturday in the form of Alexis del Bosque (18-5-1, 9 KOs), a fighter from Dallas. Andres Cortes, who is soft-spoken and smiles easily, is not given to trash-talk, but he doesn’t appear too worried. “I look at him as more of a local talent,” he says. “I intend to show him that there are levels in this game.”

    Cortes vs. del Bosque and additional undercard action will stream exclusively on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT. Stevenson vs. Valdez will air on ESPN’s main platform. It will be preceded by a scheduled eight-rounder between 2020/21 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis and 18-1 Esteban Sanchez. In the opener, Nico Ali Walsh – Muhammad Ali’s grandson – will oppose Alejandro Ibarra in a four-round middleweight bout. The ESPN card begins at 10:00 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.