By Jake Donovan
For weeks, Thomas Valdez was preparing for a grudge match with fellow Tucson-based super featherweight Jensen Ramirez. He was instead dealt a late replacement in Luis Coria, but found a way to adapt and prevail by split decision in their entertaining eight-round main event Saturday evening in Tucson, Arizona.
Valdez won by scores of 78-74 and 77-75 on two scorecards, while the dissenting judge scored 78-74 in favor of Coria.Photo Credit: @ragingbabe Twitter account
The bout was fought at a brisk pace and high skill level for all eight rounds, the fight length being the very first adjustment the 5’10” Valdez was forced to make 10 days ago. He was originally slated for a seven-round affair versus the 5’9” Ramirez, the special length being a compromise when their camps reached an impasse over whether to go six or eight rounds.
It became a moot point when Ramirez suffered a broken ankle during training camp and was forced to withdraw. In came Coria, dispatched from Oxnard by famed trainer and former 130-pound titlist Robert “Grandpa” Garcia. At 5’7”, Coria was a full two inches shorter than what Valdez had initially prepared for, and also a far more fluid boxer.
This much was evident in the early rounds, as Coria steadily worked behind his jab while looking to take the local crowd out of the equation. That wasn’t going to fly with Valdez, whose first cousin is reigning unbeaten featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez.
Boxing runs deep through the family bloodstream, but the 29-year old prospect from Tucson by way of Nogales, Mexico wasn’t quite blessed with the same championship pedigree. As such, Valdez had to dig deep to ensure that his local fans didn’t go home disappointed or that his own career resurgence would come to a halt.
Key mid-fight adjustments were made to avoid falling behind on the scorecards, at least in the eyes of two of the three judges. Coria never slowed down, but perhaps relied a bit too much on pure boxing to pull off a road win. The infighting and pressure belonged to Valdez, however, which ultimately secured the hard-fought victory.
Valdez improves to 18-3-2 (7KOs), running his unbeaten streak to 11 straight (9-0-2 over that stretch) since a six-round loss to then-unbeaten Victor Castro in his opponent’s Phoenix hometown five years ago almost exactly to the day.
Coria falls to 9-2 (4KOs) with the bitter defeat, snapping a five-fight win streak, four of which came in an active 2018 campaign.
The bout topped a 10-fight show featuring a healthy mix of knockouts and boxing displays. Among the highlights:
Sebastian Fundora opened the show with a performance worthy of as much conversation as his status as a 6’6” super welterweight prospect. The unbeaten southpaw from Coachella, Calif. moved to 11-0 (7KOs) following a highlight reel 1st round knockout of Jeremiah Wiggins. A blistering combination put Wiggins down and out in a corner, forcing an immediate stoppage.
Local middleweight Arturo Resendiz (2-0, 2KOs) properly followed suit, blasting out winless Brandon Trujillo in just 94 seconds—10 fewer than was needed in his pro debut this past May.
Alfonso Olvera—who suffered an upset loss on his last appearance at this venue in July—returned to the win column with a six-round decision over Virgil Green. Scores were 60-54 (twice) and 59-55 for Olvera (11-5-1, 4KOs) in their welterweight heat.