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Sweet Six: Oscar Valdez Decisions Jason Sanchez

For the third time in his WBO featherweight world title reign, Oscar Valdez turned away the challenge of a previously undefeated fighter. Valdez, a two-time Olympian for his native Mexico, defeated Albuquerque product Jason Sanchez via unanimous decision to defend his world title for the sixth time.
 
The scores — 118-109 2x and 117-110 — were reflective of the action, but Sanchez, appearing in his first world title contest, made the longtime champion work for the victory.
 
Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs) knocked down Sanchez with a lead left hook to open the fifth round and played the role of boxer-puncher throughout the evening.
 
Sanchez (14-1, 7 KOs) was game, but he did not have an answer for Valdez, who has become a less of a brawler and more of a defensive-minded, catch-and-shoot tactician under the guidance of trainer Eddy Reynoso.
 
“I hope {to fight at featherweight again}. I also have to listen to my body. We’re going to see what’s best,” Valdez said. “Sometimes I get tired in there, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the weight loss. We’ll talk about {my next move} as a team and will do what is best. I want to fight everybody at 126, 130. Let’s do it.”
 
“Sanchez lacked experience, but he showed tremendous guts. Oscar Valdez fought him back and showed his championship heart,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “We’re going to look for a fight later on in the year between Valdez and Carl Frampton if Frampton is successful in his next fight.”

Flores Jr. improves to 14-0

Gabriel Flores Jr., 35 days removed from his last ESPN appearance, authored quite the encore. Flores (14-0, 6 KOs), the Stockton, California, native who packed more than 10,000 fans into the Stockton Arena on May 4 for his third-round knockout over Eduardo Pereira Reis, made the short drive to Reno and outfought Salvador Briceno to earn an eight-round unanimous decision (79-73 and 78-74 2X) in the co-feature.
 
Briceno (15-4, 9 KOs), from Guadalajara, Mexico, saw his two-bout winning streak come to an end, while Flores improved to 3-0 in 2019.
 
At 19 years of age, Flores cemented his status as one of boxing’s sublime teenage talents.
 
“I want to fight in the next two, three months. If they want me to fight next month, we can talk about it,” Flores said. “I am only 19, and I am only getting better. I’m staying busy and fighting better opponents. Top Rank is developing me perfectly, and it’s about fighting all different types of fighters to get me ready for the championship level.”

In other action:

— Light heavyweight contender Michel Seals (23-2, 17 KOs) took matters into his own hands, knocking out veteran Christopher Brooker (14-7, 5 KOs) with a single right hand at 2:00 of the second round. Seals has won three in a row since a controversial disqualification loss.

“He’s a tough guy. I did my homework on him,” Seals said. “I knew he was crafty, so I had to take my time. I knew I was going to walk him into something.”

— Robson Conceicao, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist for his native Brazil, improved to 13-0 with an eight-round unanimous decision over Carlos Ruiz (16-7-2, 6 KOs). Ruiz, who has fought the likes of Shakur Stevenson and former world champion Hozumi Hasegawa, has never been stopped as a pro. The judges scored the bout as followed: 80-72 (2x) and 79-73.

— Diego Elizondo (2-0-2, 0 KOs) and Sergio Vega (2-0-1, 2 KOs) fought to a four-round draw in a crowd-pleasing lightweight bout. All three judges scored the contest 38-38.

— Reno native JJ Mariano had a successful pro debut, scoring a fourth-round TKO over William Flenoy in a super lightweight bout. Flenoy (0-1) injured his shoulder and was unable to continue.

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