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Oscar Valdez beats Scott Quigg to retain featherweight title

CARSON, Calif. — Despite all of the prefight issues, Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg turned in a classic battle Saturday night at the rain-soaked StubHub Center.

It was a bloody, back-and-forth brawl, but in the end it was Valdez who retained his featherweight world title for the fourth time on a unanimous decision, with the judges giving him scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111. scored the fight for Valdez 115-113.

“I have always said that I want to fight the best, and tonight I beat a great fighter in a hell of a war,” said Valdez, who fought most of the bout with a broken jaw. “I’m proud of myself and my team.”

The fight was in some jeopardy as of Saturday morning because Quigg didn’t make weight Friday. While Valdez weighed 125.8 for the 126-pound fight, Quigg was 128.8 pounds, and besides being ineligible to win Valdez’s world title, he was fined 20 percent of his official $100,000 purse (though he will make hundreds of thousands more).

However, the fight was hung up because Quigg refused the Valdez camp’s demand for a Saturday-morning weight check, and some in Valdez’s camp advised him not to go through with the fight.

Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs), 27, a two-time Mexican Olympian, decided to fight, and the camps then hammered out a deal under which Quigg agreed to pay Valdez an additional, undisclosed amount from his purse to go through with the fight.

It turned out to be a rock ’em, sock ’em fight-of-the-year candidate that left both fighters with ugly facial injuries. Valdez was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to have his jaw examined.

“Scott’s a tremendous fighter. Look what he did to my teeth,” Valdez said, smiling with a bloody mouth before going to the hospital. “Much respect to him. It was a war. He caught me with some good shots. He’s a tough fighter. It’s boxing. He gets hit, I get hit.”

Had the 29-year-old Quigg (34-2-2, 25 KOs) won, he would not have claimed the title. It would have been vacant. But Valdez, despite clearly being the smaller man, stood his ground and fought through an injured mouth for much of the fight. On fight night, Quigg was 142.2 pounds and Valdez was 135.6.

Quigg, a former junior featherweight world titleholder from England who is friendly with Valdez and sparred with him last year, had no complaints about the result.

“I thought it might have been a round or two closer,” Quigg said. “That’s what I expected on the cards, but he won the fight. The close rounds, they sided with him.”

Valdez opened the fight doing what he does best — landing left hooks to the head and body against Quigg, who came into the fight with a stress fracture in his right foot and looked as if he wasn’t moving as well as usual.

Valdez pounded Quigg with combinations, but Quigg’s extra bulk allowed him to take the punches. The fight was action-packed, especially the fifth round, when Quigg broke Valdez’s jaw. Valdez opened a cut over Quigg’s left eye and then suffered the jaw injury. Quigg also rocked Valdez with a right hand and appeared to have him in some trouble late in the round.

“He’s not OK. It’s a very serious injury,” said Manny Robles, Valdez’s trainer. “It happened in the fifth round. It’s a very serious injury, but he fought through the situation. It shows you what type of fighter he is, what kind of warrior he is. It’s remarkable. He fought a welterweight tonight.”

Robles was so concerned about the injury that he stopped taking Valdez’s mouthpiece out between rounds.

Quigg threw Valdez to the mat in the sixth round and was given a hard warning by referee Lou Moret.

Blood continued to come out of Valdez’s mouth in the seventh round. Quigg was also a bloody mess, with cuts on his face, swelling on his forehead and what Quigg said was a broken nose.

“I knew when the [nose] went straight away,” said Quigg, who needed stitches to sew up his cuts. “That was no problem for me.”

Valdez continued to go to the body with hurtful hooks while Quigg looked for right hands to the head. They battled toe to toe in a fight worthy of the reputation of the StubHub Center’s “War Grounds” nickname.

Quigg, trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, landed a right hand very low with 20 seconds left in the 11th round, and Moret gave Valdez time to recover. When the fight resumed, Valdez went right after Quigg and badly hurt him with a left hook to the head that drove him into the ropes.

Quigg and Valdez came out swinging in the final round. They were both bloody, hurt and exhausted, but they fought hard to the final bell.

According to CompuBox, Valdez landed 238 of 914 punches (26 percent), while Quigg connected with 143 of 595 blows (24 percent).

“[Valdez] showed his courage, which he always does,” Top Rank promoter Todd duBoef said. “Guy breaks his jaw … and he grits it out. He was handicapped by the weight, and he went through a ton of adversity. You couldn’t ask for a performance as spectacular as that. It was fantastic. And Quigg, wow. Both were gutsy.”

Although Robles said the weight situation wore on Valdez’s mind, Valdez refused to make it much of an issue.

“I wouldn’t say [it meant] much. He hit me with some good shots, but the result would have been the same if he was on weight,” Valdez said.

Now he wants to unify titles, though those fights are complicated to make because those titleholders — Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Gary Russell Jr. and Lee Selby — are with adviser Al Haymon. “I’m ready for whoever, any champion out there. I’m a champion,” he said. “We are ready to fight other world champions in the division. We want all the big names.”

But when asked what was next for Valdez, duBoef was succinct in his answer: “Heal.”

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