It was supposed to be Oscar Valdez’s toughest fight. But the rising featherweight star went through veteran Chris Avalos on Friday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as if he were a rookie sparring partner.
Valdez stayed undefeated with a fifth-round technical knockout in their 10-round fight. He had hurt Avalos several times earlier and was on the verge of putting him away when referee Russell Mora wisely stopped the fight at the 1:17 mark.
Valdez (17-0, 15 knockouts) said he wanted to control the fight with his jab and by counterpunching effectively, and that was exactly what he did.
“Everything we did in the gym, we did here, and it worked perfectly,” Valdez said.
Avalos (26-4, 19 KOs) tried to engage Valdez. But Valdez, a 2012 Mexican Olympian, was too quick, constantly beating him to the punch. And between putting his combinations together and scoring with his left jab, he simply overwhelmed Avalos.
He knocked down Avalos in the third with a left hook late in the round after Avalos had managed to catch him with an overhand right. At the end of the fourth, he rocked Avalos with a right to where Avalos wobbled back to his corner, his footing unsure.
But at least he made it to the right corner and came out for the fifth. But he didn’t last long, and moments later, he was done.
“He kept countering me. I couldn’t stop him,” Avalos said.
Valdez said he wished he had started a little faster. But once he got his timing down and momentum going, he was impossible to stop.
“I knew he would come at me right away, but I wanted to take my time and get my rhythm,” Valdez said. “He’s a tough fighter. He has a lot of heart. I was able to get him frustrated, and when I got the chance to hurt him, I was able to wear him down.”
On the undercard, Jesse Hart manhandled Aaron Pryor Jr., scoring a ninth-round TKO to retain the U.S. Boxing Association and North American Boxing Organization junior middleweight titles in a battle of two sons of former pro fighters.
Hart (18-0, 15 KOs), whose dad was former middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, had been punishing Pryor, the son of Hall of Famer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor throughout the fight.
Hart then landed a big overhand right to Pryor’s head, followed up with a crunching left hook to his body and swarmed all over Pryor, who was defenseless at that point. Referee Tony Weeks gave Pryor a chance to save himself. But when he couldn’t fight back any longer, Weeks stopped the fight with nine seconds remaining in the round.
“You have to keep your composure against a fighter like that,” Hart said. “He was grabbing and holding and not fighting. It was my body shots that broke him down.”
Hart dominated from the opening bell and appeared to have hurt Pryor (19-9-1, 12 KOs) on more than one occasion. The overhand right hand was Hart’s weapon of choice, as he constantly landed it to Pryor’s head, keeping him on the defensive.
In the seventh, Hart hurt Pryor with a hard left to the body that had Pryor wincing. He finished the round, but was in a bad way at that point. He had thrown few punches of consequence and put himself in a tough position of having to absorb some hard blows without the means of retaliating.