16.12.07 Valero continues winning streak....
It was mismatch city at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico. WBA super featherweight champion Edwin Valero (23-0, 23 KOs) crushed overmatched Zaid Zavaleta (15-3-3, 11 KOs) in three rounds of pain and punishment.
Many predicted a mismatch. Many were right. Zavaleta was no match for the much stronger, aggressive style of Valero. The Venezuelan puncher knocked Zavaleta down in the first, and would have finished him if the knockdown had come 20 seconds earlier. The beating continued for two more rounds until the referee had seen enough and stopped the action. Even Valero seemed bored with using Zavaleta as a punching bag.
Where does Valero go from here? At the moment, not the United States.
Valero's biggest obstacles in the sport are not A-level fighters. He's got bigger problems, like passing a medical examination to satisfy the American based athletic commissions. A passing exam will automatically open the door for big-money fights against Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and several others.
Valero's inability to fight in America has become a thing of legend. He began his career on July 9, 2002, with a bang, winning by knockout in the first round. Valero was a highly regard amateur in Venezuela, compiling an 86-6 record with 47 knockouts. When most highly regarded amateurs debut, they are matched with a walkover opponent to look good from the start, and in most cases they win their first bout with a knockout.
There was nothing unusual about the way he began his career as a pro.
As Valero's pro career began to unravel, the unusual began to surface. He never stopped knocking opponents out in the first round. Fight after fight and win after win, Valero's opponents were unable to make it to the second round.
After 12 wins, all by first-round knockout, he caught the attention of Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, who immediately signed him to a deal and scheduled him to make his American television debut on HBO's Boxing After Dark series.
Just when the sun began to shine on Valero, a huge cloud would momentarily derail his career. In January of 2004, Valero failed a mandatory MRI test when a brain scan revealed irregularities. The test was administered in New York, led by one of the strictest athletic commissions in the country. As a result he was deemed medically unfit and banned from fighting in the United States.
It was later revealed that Valero was involved in a severe motorcycle accident on February 5, 2001. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The lack of protection attributed to Valero fracturing his skull, and the surgery that followed to remove a blood clot. Valero has always stood behind the story of his Venezuelan doctor clearing him to fight on Jan. 17, 2002, several months before he made his professional debut.
The medical ban left Valero's career in limbo. He was on the shelf from December of '03 until he made his return to the ring in Argentina in May 2005. He hooked up with Japan-based Teiken Promotions, setting the stage for the restart of his career. It wasn't until he was 18-0, with 18 first-round knockouts, that an opponent was able to make it to the second round, but he never saw the third. In August of '06, Valero achieved one part of his dream by winning his first major title. He defeated Vicente Mosquera by 10-round stoppage in a tough fight to become the WBA super featherweight champion.
Valero has not fought on American soil since 2003. He currently resides in Japan, where several of his fights have taken place since the ban. All of the big names want to fight him — but they can't. Valero's can't fight in America and the big paydays are found in America, yet few promoters are willing to risk their superstar fighters by matching them against Valero on foreign soil.
If Valero is truly without injury and his health is in order, he needs to push for his reinstatement in America. Valero's pickings for potential opponents are slim without the ability to fight in America. He will only go so far by knocking out mismatched opponents. He needs that one defining fight. Several of them are waiting on U.S. soil.
On the undercard:
WBC featherweight champion Jorge Linares (25-0, 16KOs) stopped mandatory Gamaliel Diaz (22-7-2, 9KOs) in the eighth round. Linares put Diaz down in the fourth and a well-placed right hand knocked him out in the eighth.
Undefeated featherweight prospect Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. (9-0-1, 8 KOs), fought Jorge Cardenas (9-4-4, 6KOs) to an eight-round majority draw. The scores were 77-75 for Vazquez, with the other two judges registering 76-76 tallies.
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