Valdez overwhelms Wilson for WBO interim crown

Boxing

Oscar Valdez stopped Liam Wilson in Round 7 on Friday evening in Glendale, Arizona, to claim the interim WBO junior lightweight title.

Valdez (32-2, 24 KOs) jumped off the stool and blasted Wilson with a series of shots along the ropes to open the seventh. Later in the round, he landed two consecutive flush right hands. A follow-up barrage of punches rattled Wilson, who appeared on the verge of going down.

Wilson (13-3, 7 KOs) steadied himself, but moments later, another flurry of hard punches left him overwhelmed as the referee halted the action with 12 seconds remaining in Round 7.

“I want to be an example in boxing,” said Valdez, a former two-division champion who entered the ring rated No. 6 at 130 pounds by ESPN. “You might lose in life, but there’s an obligation to come back strong. … [This win’s] gotta be up there, it means a lot. I proved a lot of people wrong again.”

A 33-year-old Mexican, Valdez was coming off a decision loss to Emanuel Navarrete in August. The defeat was Valdez’s second in his previous three fights (the other to Shakur Stevenson in 2022).

But now, he’s primed to be a full-fledged champion again at 130 pounds. Navarrete holds the WBO junior lightweight title but meets Denys Berinchyk for the organization’s vacant lightweight belt on May 18. It’s expected Navarrete will relinquish his 130-pound belt and Valdez will be elevated.

Valdez, a former featherweight champion, fought through a deep gash over his left eye, far from the first serious cut he’s suffered in a bout. And when he defeated Scott Quigg in 2018, he did so with a broken jaw.

Guided by Eddy Reynoso (the renowned trainer of Canelo Alvarez), Valdez threw the more compact, sharper, harder punches. Wilson’s nose was already bleeding freely when he sat down on his stool following Round 2. He had his moments, though.

Valdez acknowledged that Wilson hurt him to the ribs with a body shot at one juncture.

“It’s good to know,” Wilson said.

Wilson, too, lost to Navarrete in 2023. The 28-year-old floored Navarrete in Round 4 last February before he was stopped in the ninth. Wilson rebounded with two wins in Australia to close the year.

He is one of three Australians competing in world title fights this weekend. Rising star Tim Tszyu fights Sebastian Fundora for the WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles on Saturday in Las Vegas while Michael Zerafa challenges Erislandy Lara for the WBA middleweight title on the undercard.

“This is the way boxing goes,” said Wilson. “Since I was a young kid, I dreamed of being in these fights. I tried to box in the first few rounds and my heart got the better of me. … I’m going to learn from it. … Oscar’s a true champion and I’m very proud to share the ring with him. … Still early in my career. I’m a young fella and I’ll be back.”

Estrada tops Valla to become undisputed

Seniesa Estrada became the undisputed strawweight champion with a unanimous-decision victory over Yokasta Valle in the co-feature. All three judges scored the bout 97-93.

Estrada (26-0, 9 KOs) mocked Valle in Round 9 by acting like a matador and won the exchanges in a spirited 10-round fight. Estrada, who entered the bout with the WBA and WBC 105-pounds titles, used her superior footwork and boxing ability to consistently beat her rival to the punch.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time, becoming undisputed,” said Estrada, a 31-year-old from Los Angeles. ” … I accomplished my dreams. … I knew I would take away that right hand with my defense and my footwork. I’m very competitive and I want to be the best.”

The lead-up between the pair grew personal. Estrada was formerly promoted by Golden Boy, the promoter of Valle. More so, Valle’s trainer, Gloria Alvarado, worked with Estrada in the amateurs.

Valle, who walked through the ropes with the IBF and WBO titles, suffered a deep gash over her right eye in the opening round, a cut that bled profusely throughout the bout. Alvarado said Estrada intentionally head-butted Valle (30-3, 9 KOs).

“I did feel that it was intentional,” said Valle, a 31-year-old Costa Rican. ” … I had to struggle through that for the rest of the nine rounds.”

Estrada outlanded Valla 86-85 in the power department, per CompuBox.

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