Albert Baker
Photos Lina Baker, Instagram @seeyouringside

“It does bother me when people don’t bring me up when talking about fights they want to see at 126.” Oscar Valdez told me that during the Valdez vs Marriaga announcement press conference at the Marriott in Manhattan Beach, California eight weeks ago. Well Oscar, they aren’t saying it now.

In an all-action back and forth affair Oscar Valdez 22-0 19KO’s retained his WBO Featherweight Title after beating Colombian Miguel Marriaga 25-2 21KO’s.

On paper Marriaga was the toughest test to date for Valdez of Nogales, Mexico and a good test to identify the true potential of Valdez’s star power. After the first round ended Marriaga showed that he didn’t come to Los Angeles to go away easy as he and Valdez traded shots. The initial action of the first three rounds showed a close fight until Valdez showed double and triple jabs with movement to force Marriaga to reset his offense and reload his big left and right hooks without firing. Valdez clearly won the middle rounds of the fight as Marriaga slowed just a half step to allow Valdez’s skill to show prominently.
In the tenth round Marriaga came on strong and started to get to Valdez as he began to slow, firing combinations and landing big shots to the head of the Mexican until Valdez unleashed a huge left hook that put Marriaga on wobbly street like a newborn baby giraffe. Marriaga would beat the count and survive the onslaught by Valdez as he completely unloaded his tank in an attempt to end the fight. Marraiga survived the round only to come out stronger and take the fight to a now exhausted Valdez.

The eleventh and twelfth rounds were back and forth spectacles beholden to the legacy of the famed Stubhub Center. The crowd was on its feet raucously cheering the sheer violence they had hoped their ticket would give them. After the final bell scores for the fight were 119-108, 118-109, 116-111 all for Oscar Valdez.

With the win Valdez makes a case for being one of the most exciting fighters in the world at 126 and creates a demand for a unification matchup between himself and one of the other champions.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez 35-0 24KO’s ground out a dominant unanimous decision victory over Max Bursak 33-5-1 15KO’s. Ramirez was fighting for the first time since sustaining a hand injury in his title winning performance against Arthur Abraham last year. Ramirez dominated the action with a high activity rate and frustrated Bursak.

Twice Bursak was deducted a point on two separate occasions for holding to highlight his frustration. Final scores on the bout we 120-106 on all three cards for the Mexican in the first defense of his WBO Super Middleweight Title.

Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson 1-0 made his highly anticipated professional debut after being walked to the ring by fellow Olympians and Gold Medalists Andre Ward and Claressa Shields. Stevenson won a technical decision over rugged Edgar Brito 3-3-1 2KO’s after the doctor stopped the fight due to a cut caused by a head butt on Brito. Stevenson’s talent looked less than what was expected with such a highly anticipated professional debut, prompting the predominantly Mexican-American crowd to rain a chorus of boos during his post-fight interview.
Opening the televised action WBO junior featherweight champion Jessie Magdaleno 25-0 18KO’s wasted no time in dominating Brazilian Adelson Dos Santos 18-3 14KO’s. Magdaleno put Dos Santos down in the second with a hard-left hand. Magdaleno sealed the deal later in the round, dropping him again to prompt referee Lou Moret to waive the fight at 2:51 in the second round. Following the fight Magdaleno said “It feels good, I want anyone with a belt anybody can come and get it”.

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