In 2001 Valero riding a motorbike without a helmet was involved in an accident that resulted in a fractured skull and surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Cleared by a Venezuelan doctor to fight, in January 2004 he failed a brain scan for an upcoming fight with American network HBO and was banned from fighting in the US.
Forced to fight wherever would take him – and he spent much of his early career fighting in Japan. His southpaw stance, ultra aggressive style – walking his opponent down, cutting the ring off combined with his disregard for boxing basics – he keeps his guard low, head straight up and his chin exposed, mouth open as he punches, continues to bring a raw charm to this fighter.
A few facts and figures – he has won all 27 of his fights by knockout. 19 of those knockouts in the first round. That is devastating power.
In his last outing Valero added previously hidden boxing skills to the power and aggression that are his trademark – forcing the highly regarded Antiono De Marco to be pulled out by his corner at the end of the ninth round. Valero suffered a deep cut to the forehead in this fight (caused by an accidental elbow) – the WBC in its infinite wisdom has now made him “Lightweight champion in recess” while he recovers. A rumoured move to light welterweight – the territory of Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton and Timothy Bradley could and should propel this fighter to boxing mainstream.
If he could carry the power up two weight divisions to welterweight – as Manny Pacquiao has done, then big pay days in Vegas could lie ahead. Texas has now cleared Valero to fight there – a US audience and following is vital in today’s market.
So what are your thoughts? Does Valero have the boxing skills to compete in the hardest weight classes in boxing? Will his explosive power move up with him? Will the brain scan scupper mainstream US fights? Is there anyone out there better?
Here’s a little taste of him in action: