Arum Expects Berchelt vs. Valdez To Be Fight of The Year Candidate

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum was just a couple of days removed from having promoted the highly significant fight between Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko, which Lopez won by unanimous decision to unify lightweight world titles at the conference center of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, when he began to look ahead one of the other highly significant fights he will promote before the end of the year.

Arum told BoxingScene.com that he is very much looking forward to the expected all-action showdown between junior lightweight world titlist Miguel Berchelt and unbeaten former featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez, the mandatory challenger.

Although the fight has not been formally announced yet, it is slated to headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Dec. 12, also inside the bubble of the conference center at the MGM Grand.

Arum said 23-year-old Brooklyn, New York, super middleweight prospect Edgar Berlanga (15-0, 15 KOs), who ran his streak to 15 first-round knockouts in a row to begin his career by stopping Lanell Bellows in 79 seconds on the Lomachenko-Lopez undercard, will return on the Berchelt-Valdez show in an eight-rounder against an opponent to be determined.

Arum said he believes that the all-Mexican showdown between Berchelt and Valdez could produce the kind of excitement and fireworks that International Boxing Hall of Famers Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales produced during their legendary trilogy that Arum promoted between 2000 and 2004.

Coincidentally, the third fight, which was the consensus 2004 fight of the year, was for the WBC junior lightweight title – the same 130-pound belt Berchelt will be defending for the seventh time when he faces Valdez.

“Valdez I have always viewed as being very much like Morales,” Arum said. “Berchelt has heavy hands and also makes great fights. He’s like (featherweight titlist Emanuel) Navarrete with a little more skill. How can this fight miss?”

Arum added that for as long as the fight between Berchelt (38-1-0, 34 KOs), 28, and Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs), 29, has been discussed he has viewed it as potential fight of the year caliber fight.

“You talk about a fight,” Arum said. “That is the only fight that I see that will contend – that might contender – for fight of the year other than (Jose) Zepeda and (Ivan) Baranchyk. I don’t know how you do a better fight that that one. But having watched all three Barrera-Morales fights, if Berchelt and Valdez is anything like those fights, it will certainly compete for fight of the year.”

Arum was the promoter on Oct. 3 when former junior welterweight world title challenger Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs) and former junior welterweight world titlist Baranchyk (20-2, 13 KOs) headlined a Top Rank card on ESPN+ at the MGM Grand and produced an instant classic that is the clear cut leader for 2020 fight of the year honors.

The junior welterweight bout was a riveting slugfest in which there were knockdowns in every round. There were a total of eight knockdowns with each man getting dropped four times en route to Zepeda scoring the final knockdown with a clean left hand to Baranchyk’s chin that badly knocked him out with 10 seconds left in the fifth round for a knockout of the year contender in a fifth round that is a round of the year contender.

Dan Rafael was ESPN.com’s senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.