Miguel Berchelt enjoyed a successful lightweight debut, although the real hope is for the moment to be one-and-done as he returns to far more pressing affairs at his natural fighting weight.
The long-reigning junior lightweight from Merida, Mexico titlist effortlessly turned away the challenge of countryman Eleazar Valenzuela, whom he stopped in the 6th round of their ESPN-televised main event, Saturday evening live from a crowdless TV Azteca studio lot in Mexico City.
A series of rights and left hooks upstairs prompted referee Cesar Castanon to intervene at 1:13 of round six.
Traditionally a slow starter, Berchelt worked largely behind his jab in the opening round. Guasave’s Valenzuela did his best to steal moments, but ultimately paid the price. Action was nearly cut short when the bell inexplicably sounded with more than a minute to go, though both boxers to their credit fought through the error. Berchelt capped the frame with a perfectly timed left hook to floor Valenzuela just before the official bell to end the round.
Berchelt immediately went on the attack in round two. Valenzuela was placed in defensive mode asBerchelt unloaded with left hooks and right hands upstairs, with most combinations ending with a left hook downstairs. Valenzuela lacked any steam on the rare occasions he was able to respond, pushing a soft uppercut and right hand that didn’t have any impact.
Having absorbed 61% of the power punches launched by Berchelt through two rounds, Valenzuela was desperate to slow down the attack of his relentless countryman. That very break would come in the form of a low blow, taking place early in round three. Valenzuela limped out of an exchange in order to recover from the sequence, with the down time marking a rare moment in the fight where he wasn’t under siege.
Berchelt continued to attack the body of Valenzuela in round four. Left hooks continued to find their way to Valenzuela’s soft midsection though his toughness was on display as he refused to wilt. Berchelt took his attack upstairs, doubling up on his left hook but also letting his guard down just long enough to eat a right hand near the end of the frame. More of the same took place in round five, save for Berchelt having to worry about return fire.
Managing to get in some rounds, Berchelt closed the show in round six. A jab set up the final sequence, with Valenzuela’s chin exposed just enough to catch two clean rights and a left hook. Valenzuela stumbled into the ropes, where Berchelt uncorked four more unanswered power shots upstairs before the bout was mercifully halted.
Valenzuela falls to 21-14-4 (16KOs), having now suffered three losses in his last four fights.
Meanwhile, Berchelt continues to fly high. The 28-year old has now won 17 straight—all but one ending inside the distance—as he improves to 38-1 (34KOs). He got the job done purely through powerpunching accuracy, landing 201 of 321 shots of such variety for a staggering 63% connect rate. Berchelt landed 232 of 478 punches overall (49%), compared to just 37 of 305 (12%) by Valenzuela.
Saturday’s bout did little more than mark time, but the next one will serve as one for which fans have craved for months.
Berchelt was previously angling for a title defense versus countryman and former featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21KOs) earlier this spring. Those plans were scrapped along with so many other bouts due to the ongoing coronavirus which continues to limit fan participation at such events. Saturday’s card was the second straight weekend in Mexico City to take place without fans in attendance.
A similar stateside series made its debut live from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on June 9 and will continue through at least the end of July. Included among the summer series is a July 21 show to be topped by Valdez in a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight clash versus Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez (29-6-1, 21KOs).
The bout will mark Valdez’s second at 130 pounds after having served for more than three years as a featherweight titlist. A win in July will set up an opportunity to become a two-division titlist, while Berchelt will attempt the seventh defense of a junior lightweight title reign dating back to an 11th round knockout of Francisco Vargas in their first fight in January 2017.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox