LOS ANGELES — Eleven months ago Ramon Valadez was nothing more than an entertaining club fighter with a 1-1 record. However, in less than a year the East L.A.-based lightweight has put together enough victories to begin to gain recognition as a prospect.
Impressive performances, such as his third-round stoppage of Ramon Flores in the main event of a Fight Night Club show on Thursday, are changing fans’ perception of Valadez (9-1, 5 knockouts) for the better.
Valadez took the fight to Flores (3-13-2, 3 KOs) and consistently beat the awkward, rangy journeyman to the punch in the same venue that he lost a thrilling four-round slugfest to Oscar Andrade last July. Club Nokia is also where the 21-year-old up-and-comer fought four of his seven consecutive victories, including a four-round decision over Flores last November, following his lone loss.
Valadez was able to knockout Flores in their rematch because he’s grown as a fighter. He’s added a stiff jab to his arsenal. He throws accurate combinations that usually include body shots. And he’s learned when not to fight during a tough round. Valadez grabbed and held Flores a few times during the second round when the wild-swinging opponent landed a few haymakers in the second round.
He didn’t do that against Andrade and it cost him. Against Flores, Valadez timed his punches well, including a short cross that dropped the 30-year-old slugger from Guadalajara, Mexico, midway through the third round. Flores got up and fired back with abandon, which exposed his chin to the perfect compact left hook that Valadez landed to end the fight. Flores fell face forward where referee Jerry Cantu counted him out at 2:59 of the round.
In the co-featured bout of the card, which was broadcast on Fox Sport Net and streamed live on RingTV.com, undefeated lightweight prospect Jaime Kavanagh, of Hollywood, Calif., by way of Ireland, scored a third-round stoppage of John Willoughby, of Selma, Ala.
Kavanagh (7-0, 3 KOs) started fast and forced the 36-year-old journeyman back on his heels with a brutally accurate body attack. Although Willoughby (3-8, 2 KOs) fired back whenever he could it didn’t take long for Kavanagh, a former amateur star who is co-trained by Freddie Roach, to physically overwhelm the older, lesser skilled fighter.
In the opening bout of the card, 20-year-old David Reyes, of East L.A., won his pro debut by out-working and outclassing Cain Garcia, of Bakersfield, Calif., throughout their four-round junior featherweight fight. Reyes (1-0), who took the fight to Garcia in every round, won by unanimous scores of 40-36.
Reyes, who trains in Montebello, Calif., with former 154-pound titleholder Sergio Mora’s longtime trainer Dean Campos, displayed a varied offense, good upper-body movement and crafty footwork. Garcia (0-3) was able to land a few counter punches in the first round, but the 23-year-old fighter couldn’t deal with the non-stop punching and angles presented by Reyes, who looks like he’s got a future.