The 2021 Fight of the Year race has officially started, as Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez will face off in one of the most anticipated all-Mexican fistic showdowns in years.
Cancun’s Berchelt will defend his WBC super featherweight world title against Nogales native Valdez in a special Top Rank on ESPN telecast Saturday, Feb. 20.
The 10-round super featherweight co-feature will see rising 20-year-old Gabriel Flores Jr. against former world champion Andrew “El Chango” Cancio.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions, Berchelt-Valdez and Flores-Cancio will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez are two proud Mexican warriors who will give boxing fans a memorable fight,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Top Rank promoted all three bouts between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, and I view Berchelt-Valdez as this generation’s Barrera-Morales.”
Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) has held the WBC super featherweight title since January 2017, when he knocked out Francisco Vargas in the 11th round. His last five title defenses have ended via the quick route, including a ninth-round TKO over Miguel Roman, a sixth-round TKO over Vargas in their May 2019 rematch, and a fourth-round knockout over former world champion Jason Sosa. He fought last June in a non-title bout and knocked out Eleazar Valenzuela in six one-sided rounds.
“This fight is the one that I dreamed of since we were both amateur fighters,” Berchelt said. “Valdez is a great fighter, and it will be a great fight. I am preparing with everything to win by knockout and leave no doubt that I am the best super featherweight in the world.”
Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) is a two-time Mexican Olympian who vacated the WBO featherweight world title last year after six title defenses, which included scintillating 12-round barnburners against the likes of Scott Quigg, Genesis Servania and Miguel Marriaga. He suffered a severely broken jaw against Quigg in March 2018, returned 11 months later, and has since won four consecutive bouts. Since moving up to 130 pounds, Valdez has scored stoppage wins over Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez.
Valdez said, “Whenever there are two Mexicans in the ring, it is a guaranteed war, and it will be an honor for me to bring a great war to my fans.”
Flores (19-0, 6 KOs), from Stockton, Calif., signed a professional contract with Top Rank at 16 years old and went 3-0 in 2020 as he graduated from prospect to contender. He started the year Feb. 22 on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury II undercard and dominated Matt Conway over eight rounds. Flores shined on a pair of occasions inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, winning decisions over Josec Ruiz and Ryan Kielczweski. Flores now steps up against Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), a fellow Californian who formerly held the WBA super featherweight world title. Cancio knocked out Alberto Machado in February 2019 to win the title and repeated the deed with another knockout over Machado that June. Rene Alvarado ended Cancio’s ascension with a seventh-round knockout in November 2019, and early last year, Cancio inked a promotional contract with Top Rank.
“My main goal is to win a world title,” Flores said. “Dominating a former world champion will put me in a great position to challenge for a title soon.”
Cancio said, “I’m very excited to return to battle on February 20 against Gabriel Flores Jr. I’m working hard in the gym, and I know that this fight is the first on my path to becoming a two-time world champion. I would like to thank my fans, who have been so incredibly supportive. I’ve heard you loud and clear and can’t wait to put on another great show for you.”