Last Saturday, featherweight contender Luis “Orlandito” Del Valle saw fellow Puerto Ricans Jonathan Oquendo and Ramon “Rocky” Martinez in exciting fights as part of the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto undercard.
Having lost three prior bouts against championship level fighters, Oquendo was out to prove that his fourth time would be a charm against two-division titlist Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico. A considerable underdog, Oquendo overcame a first round knockdown to drop Gonzalez the very next round en route to an entertaining majority decision victory. The win was the biggest of his career and puts him in position for a world title shot.
Later that evening, Martinez defended his WBO Super Featherweight championship against Orlando Salido. Known among Puerto Rican fans for twice knocking out highly touted Juan Manuel Lopez, Salido won titles at 126 and 130 pounds and looked to avenge a prior loss against Martinez. In the third round, Salido scored a controversial knockdown but himself ended up on the canvas later in that stanza courtesy of a Martinez right hand. From there, Martinez and Salido showed why Puerto Rico vs Mexico is regarded as boxing’s best rivalry, going to war until the final bell. The fight was ruled a split draw and a third match will likely take place.
Like his countrymen Del Valle, 19-2, has had ups and downs in his career. In 2011, he scored a career best win against highly regarded Dat Nguyen to capture the NABA featherweight crown in New York City less than 24 hours before the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Unfortunately, his two defeats came on big stages against former two-division world champion Vic Darchinyan and more controversially to unbeaten contender Luis Rosa. Following the March 2014 setback against Rosa, Del Valle took time away from the ring and was granted a release from his promotional and managerial contracts. Understanding that he was in a tougher spot than a few years prior, he carefully evaluated his options.
This past March, Del Valle resurfaced by scoring an 8th round stoppage over gatekeeper Roberto Castaneda and signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports. After the win, he entertained a few fight offers and is expecting to fight a few more times in 2015. The performance by his countrymen last Saturday night ,however, put him in a whole different mindset when he went to the gym the next morning.
“I was extremely impressed by Rocky and Oquendo,” said Del Valle. “Both suffered multiple defeats but overcame them by performing on a huge stage last week. After watching the fights, I sat back and realized that could be me if given a similar opportunity. It truly inspired me to train harder because I want to make Puerto Rico proud!”
Without an official date set for his next match, Del Valle is hoping he receives a spot on Miguel Cotto-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez undercard and promises to excite if given the opportunity.
“Real boxing fans are more excited for Cotto-Canelo than any other fight this year including Mayweather-Pacquiao. That is going to be another great chapter in the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry. It’d be a dream come true to fight on that card against a top Mexican boxer. I’m eager to show the world that Orlandito is back and motivated!”
Fans can follow Del Valle on Twitter @Orlanditoboxing.