Oscar Valdez crowned himself as a two-weight boxing king with a thunderous, one-punch knockout win over Miguel Berchelt at a behind-closed-doors Top Rank show Saturday in Las Vegas.
Berchelt was unconscious before he hit the canvas and took an uncomfortable amount of time to recover.
He was rushed to hospital, given a CT scan, and cleared to be discharged. Leading boxing executive Lou DiBella said the damage done has the potential to destroy his career.
Berchelt was no pushover in the weekend's super featherweight title fight, as the long-reigning WBC champ was touted as the favorite ahead of the bout.
Valdez dominated the match, scoring three knockdowns that included an ice-cold, buzzer-beating finish in the 10th.
The 30-year-old Mexican fighter controlled the distance, tempo, and the match with his jab — landing 46 of 206 thrown for a 22.3% accuracy rate, according to Compubox data sent to Insider.
In the opening rounds, the power difference began to take hold as Bechelt had already started bleeding.
In the fourth, Valdez's patented left hook — which he had been landing effectively earlier in the match — visibly dazed Berchelt before more punches backed him into the ropes.
As the ropes were deemed to have helped keep Berchelt on his feet, the referee Russell Mora ruled it a knockdown and Valdez was now flying high on the scorecards.
A punching flurry in the ninth added another knockdown to Valdez's ledger and concerns rose that the referee, or Berchelt's corner, should wave the bout off.
The fight continued and Valdez made the decision for them, sending Berchelt face-first to the floor with another left hook.
Watch the finish right here:
.@oscarvaldez56 HAS DONE IT!!!!!— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 21, 2021
An explosive left hand at the bell in Round 10 closes a masterful performance, and he is now a 2-time world champion! ????????????#BercheltValdez | #AndTheNew | ESPN pic.twitter.com/HFw8eT7Mqm
Advancing his unbeaten pro boxing record to 29 wins (23 knockouts) with the victory. Valdez had already won the WBO featherweight championship in 2016 and retained the title in six fights.
He said: "There's nothing better in life than proving people wrong.
"I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out. I have a message to everybody: Don't' let anyone tell you what you can and can't do.
"I want to take this belt home, and I'm happy for that. Any champion out there … I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight. Let's do it. I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want."
Valdez landed 103 of his 328 power shots with all but one directed to Berchelt's head.
"Berchelt's corner will regret letting it get to that KO in the future," the boxing executive Lou DiBella said on Twitter.
"He took more devastating headshots than I've seen in years. Berchelt is a consummate warrior, but that kind of courage can destroy careers and lives. We need to protect these gladiators from themselves."
As for Valdez, his promoter Bob Arum — one of boxing's most powerful figures as the founder and CEO of the Las Vegas-based fight firm Top Rank — said, perhaps worrying for his opponents, that: "The best is yet to come."
We’ve promoted every fight of his pro career, and this was the culmination. With @oscarvaldez56, you can’t count him out against anybody, and I really believe the best is yet to come.— Bob Arum (@BobArum) February 21, 2021
I’m so proud of him. pic.twitter.com/Tu1qPiDKls