Avila Perspective, Chap. 280: Oscar Valdez, One of Boxing’s Good Guys, and More


By David A. Avila

You always remember the good guys and Oscar Valdez has long been one of the few charter members of the “good guy” club and its very low membership. And, by the way, he’s got a world title again.

Pro boxing has so few like Valdez. Today the sport is overrun by wanna be thugs and self-promoters who think shoving opponents at weigh-ins or belittling fallen foes makes them superior.

Last weekend Valdez fought Australia’s rough and tumble Liam Wilson and they engaged in a back-and-forth battle that had fans on the edge of their seats. Blows were struck with amazing force and heads snapped from punches in violent fashion.

“He almost got me,” said Valdez about Wilson. “He almost became a world champion. I have nothing but respect for Liam Wilson and his team.”

Valdez emerged the victor by TKO when he unleashed two dozen blows on the very resilient Wilson who never touched the canvas. It was very similar to the Aussies loss to Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete. In that fight he knocked down the Mexican world champion but lost. In this fight, he nearly ended the fight at least twice with thunderous belts on Valdez.

Somehow Valdez survived and emerged the winner of the interim WBO super featherweight title. The fighter from Nogales, Mexico will get another shot down the road for the actual title. But he also didn’t forget to congratulate his formidable foe Wilson. Just like he didn’t forget to salute his previous vanquished foe Miguel Berchelt or those that defeated him like Shakur Stevenson and Navarrete.

Who does that?

One common denominator are his managers Frank Espinoza and son Frank Espinoza Jr. You will never meet two nicer human beings in the sport of boxing. They have a long history of managing great champions with classy qualities like Valdez.

Who can forget Mexico’s Israel Vazquez or Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez. Two of the nicest boxers you will ever meet. Vazquez in particular would give you his last dime. I remember 12 years ago in a fight card in Cancun, Mexico, an hour after the last bout in a bull ring arena, about seven of us waited for a taxi to take us back to the hotel a few miles away. There was only enough room for six so Vazquez offered his seat to me. I shook my head and told him to join his friends in the taxi. But I never forgot his generosity.

Somehow the Espinozas always find these rare human beings to manage as boxers. The Espinozas are like that too.

Valdez is a lot like Vazquez and other gentlemen of the sport. They epitomize the word “sportsmanship.”

As Wilson and Valdez walked off the prize ring you could see the two chatting like brothers in arms. Warriors alike and acknowledging each other’s spirit. We’re on earth for a very short period.

"Oscar is a true champion, and I’m very proud to have shared the ring with him. It’s still early in my career. I have plenty to go. I’m young. I’ll be back,” said Wilson.

Death is always a breath away in boxing. Many fighters have lost their lives while participating in the prize ring. Great fighters with tremendous fighting hearts like Leavander Johnson, Duk Koo Kim, Francisco Bejines, Jimmy Garcia, and Pedro Alcazar lost their lives in boxing matches where I was in attendance. I never forgot.

Leavander Johnson was one that stands in my mind the most. After his fight was stopped against Jesus Chavez in 2005, I waited for him near the locker rooms to ask about his fight and while telling me his answer he began to tremble. His corner grabbed him immediately and rushed him to a hospital. I drove over to the medical center to find out his prognosis. He would pass away five days later.

I remember that every time I attend a prize fight.

So, when I see two warriors congratulating each other, it shows their appreciation of life and the human spirit. Never forget those who are no longer with us.

Thursday Night Fights

A slew of undefeated prospects like Jose “Tito” Sanchez stack a Golden Boy Promotions fight card on Thursday, April 4, at Fantasy Springs Casino. DAZN will stream the card beginning at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Boxing and MMA bouts stack a fight card at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa on Thursday April 4. FITE.TV will stream the Roy Englebrecht Promotions action live. Doors open at 6 p.m. and fights begin at 7 p.m.

Special guest will be four-division world titlist Yokasta Valle of Costa Rica. She will be signing autographs and taking photos with fans.

Las Vegas Saturday

A female world title fight between Australia’s Skye Nicolson (9-0) and Sarah Mahfoud (14-1) headline a Matchroom Boxing card at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday April 6. DAZN will stream the fight card live.

Also on the fight card will be super lightweight contenders Richardson Hitchins (17-0) facing Gustavo Lemos (29-0) and super middleweight contenders Diego Pacheco (20-0) against Shawn McCalman (15-0).

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Thurs. DAZN 6 p.m. Manuel Flores (16-1) vs Alberto Guevara (27-6).

Thurs. FITE.TV 7 p.m. Jordan Panthen (7-0) vs Ravshan Hudaynazarov (19-5).

Fri. DAZN 5 p.m. Tito Mercado (14-0) vs Deiner Berrio (22-4-1).

Sat. DAZN 6 p.m. Richardson Hitchins (17-0) vs Gustavo Lemos (29-0); Skye Nicolson (9-0) vs Sarah Mahfoud (14-1).