By Jim Calfa: Boxing great Juan Manuel Marquez says the key to Oscar Valdez beating Shakur Stevenson is to stay on the inside and throw combinations all night long this Saturday in their super featherweight unification fight.
Valdez vs. Stevenson will be heading on ESPN+ and ESPN at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Marquez says WBO 130-lb champion Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) will be trying his best to keep the action on the outside, making the fight a tactical battle where he can utilize his longer reach and speed to his advantage.
To take away the outside game of Shakur, Marquez wants Valdez to use head movement & quick feet to work his way to the inside and stay there to throw three to five-punch combinations.
Cuban Robeisy Ramirez used his superior inside game to defeat Stevenson in the 2016 Olympics, keeping him from using his outside game to pick him apart the way he wanted.
Ramirez had lightning-fast hands going for him in that fight. Valdez isn’t nearly as far as Ramirez was back then, but he has the power to do damage to Shakur if he can get on the inside and stay there.
Stevenson’s size will be another massive problem for Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs). When Shakur is rehydrated, he looks like a light welterweight and is much bigger than Valdez. But if Valdez can stay on the inside, he’s got the power to give Shakur fits.
“Shakur is a good fighter, and Oscar Valdez is a good fighter too,” said Juan Manuel Marquez to Fight Hub TV. “It’ll be a great fight, and I think Valdez has an opportunity to win the fight.
“It’s going to be difficult because Shakur Stevenson is a difficult fighter, but everything is possible in the ring,” said Marquez.
“Valdez needs to use his experience, move his body in the ring and land his combinations on his body or Shakur Stevenson’s body, [howing combinations of three, four, five landed punches and combinations, starting on his body and Shakur Stevenson’s face. Then change the combinations.
“For that, Valdez needs to move his body to get to the body of Shakur Stevenson,” said Marquez when asked how the shorter 5’5 1/2″ Valdez can get to the taller 5’7″ Stevenson.
“Stay inside of Shakur Stevenson’s defense. It’s a very tough fight for Oscar. Maybe his trainer, Eddy Reynoso, needs to work for speed, for Oscar Valdez’s speed and his legs.
“Shakur Stevenson is a good fighter in the center of the ring, and Oscar Valdez needs to work to go inside the defense of Shakur Stevenson. Shakur will stay at a distance in a strategic fight.
“I think Oscar Valdez needs to use his speed and use his body in the ring because he needs to be inside the defense of Shakur Stevenson.
‘I think it’ll be a great fight. Oscar Valdez is a great fighter, and Shakur Stevenson is a great fighter,” said Marquez.