Michael Rosenthal

Valadez has come a long way since his four-round war


Video streaming by Ustream

 

It was only a four-rounder between raw, unknown young fighters Ramon Valadez and Oscar Andrade, an inconsequential prelude to the main event of a Fight Night Club card in Los Angeles. This was in July of last year.

People are still talking about it.

Valadez and Andrade, both in their second pro fights, engaged in a 12-minute brawl so consistently savage that the fans packed into Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles roared and normally cynical boxing writers looked on wide-eyed.

Andrade won a unanimous decision but both fighters won the hearts of those in attendance.

That’s not the end of the story, though. Those who might’ve dismissed Valadez as a gutsy kid without a future in boxing because of what appeared to be limited skills might have to reconsider: Turns out the loser in that war can box.

Valadez has won seven consecutive fights since he met Andrade and might just turn out to be a legitimate prospect. He fights Ramon Flores in the Fight Night Club main event Thursday at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.

Watch the card on Fox Sports Net and its affiliates or on RingTV.com at 8 p.m. PT / 11 p.m. ET.

“I just remember throwing blows,” said Valadez, referring to the Andrade fight. “I remember just trying to survive. I wasn’t in shape for that fight. I didn’t even believe I belonged in the ring with that guy.

“It was tough. I was just trying to stay on my feet, trying not to fall. I’d never been knocked out. I didn’t want that to happen.”

Valadez, a 21-year-old from Los Angeles, showed some promise after he got involved in a Los Angeles Police Department boxing program as a child. However, he chose to leave the sport and play football in high school.

The four-round brawl was only his second sanctioned bout of any kind after Valadez returned to boxing upon his graduation. Andrade was a poor choice for an opponent for a number of reasons, including the fact he’s naturally bigger than Valadez and a southpaw.

Andrade also remains unbeaten (6-0) as a pro.

“The buck stops with me,” said Hector Ibarra, Valadez’s manager and the man who introduced him to boxing in the beginning. “I wasn’t sold on the fight but I went along. The main [problem] was weight. Conditioning also was an issue. He was a southpaw.

“To this day I still kick myself in the butt.”

Valadez said simply: “I was away for four years. I wasn’t ready for something like that.”

Valadez was not pleased with his performance or the result of the Andrade bout but he never considered giving up.

Instead, he went to work on refining his skills and building his confidence with now-former trainer Ray Morales. He has since fought four more times at Club Nokia, blossoming before everyone’s eyes into a good, more-complete fighter.

He still demonstrates a fighter’s heart but no longer stands toe-to-toe and recklessly exchanges punches. He moves, he thinks, he adjusts.

That’s how he has been able to win seven consecutive fights against decent young opponents. And, if the experience of his sparring partners is taken into account, he’s done even better in the gym.

Valadez spars more-experienced fighters and holds his own. That includes slugger John Molina on a recent visit to Big Bear, Calif., and fellow prospects Luis Ramos and Ronny Rios.

The Valadez of today is light years ahead of the Valadez who fought Andrade in large part because of the sparring sessions.

 “I wasn’t fully confident in myself,” he said. “I proved to myself by sparring with good fighters that I could compete. That developed outside the ring, in practice. I thought, ‘Damn, I’m here sparring with this undefeated guy and I’m giving it to him.’ It gave me a lot of confidence.

“I think I’ve come a long way in a short time. Who would’ve ever thought in a year from that [Andrade] fight that I’d be fighting in the main event?”

 

Note: Valadez-Andrade is the first fight on the Ustream video above. The fight begins around 33:00 into the video.

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