By Keith Idec
Oscar Valdez has an opponent for his comeback from a broken jaw.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Valdez will oppose Spain’s Andoni Gago on January 12 in Tucson, Arizona, where Valdez lived for several years as a child. Mexico’s Valdez will make an optional defense of his WBO featherweight title against Gago in a 12-round, 126-pound title bout ESPN will televise.
Valdez, 27, will fight for the first time since suffering a fractured jaw during the fifth round of his 12-round victory over Scott Quigg on March 10. Mexico’s Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) fought through that injury for six-plus rounds to defeat England’s Quigg by unanimous decision in an entertaining encounter ESPN aired 8½ months ago from StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Valdez underwent surgery to repair his jaw, which was wired shut for more than a month. He resumed training early in September.
The 2012 Mexican Olympian also changed trainers following his win against Quigg (35-2-2, 26 KOs), a former WBA super bantamweight champ. Valdez replaced Manny Robles with Eddy Reynoso, who, along with his father, Jose “Chepo” Reynoso, has trained Canelo Alvarez throughout his career.
The 33-year-old Gago (20-3-3, 6 KOs) is ranked No. 14 among the WBO’s featherweight contenders. The unknown challenger will fight for a world title for the first time and is considered a safe foe for Valdez in the defending champion’s first bout back from such a serious injury.
Gago is 4-0-1 since former IBF featherweight champ Lee Selby stopped him in the ninth round of their March 2017 bout at O2 Arena in London. Wales’ Selby (26-2, 9 KOs) beat Gago in what was scheduled as a 10-round, non-title bout between his four successful defenses.
Two fights ago, Gago defeated France’s Geoffrey Dos Santos (11-1) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder and won the European Boxing Union’s featherweight title April 28 in Bilbao, Spain.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.