For those who do not know Edwin Valero, this is one boxer with an impeccable fight record boxing purists would love to watch. Twenty-four wins. All within the distance. The first 17 fights ended in first round KOs. The 18th fight lasted a bit longer—all the way to round two.
Then came a crack at the WBA super-featherweight champion Vicente Mosquera, who, prior to Valero, had never lost via stoppage. Valero TKO'd Mosquera in the 10th round. In defending his belt, the Venezuelan Valero stopped in the later rounds two fairly good boxers who had never tasted defeat via the short route (Takehiro Shimada, Zaid Zavaleta).
It is apparent that with the quality of opposition improving, Valero takes longer to knock his opponents out. While his first 18 foes were perhaps part-time fighters who moonlight as cab drivers, a lot of superlatives can be heaped on someone who knocks out all his 24 opponents.
Which brings us to the comparison with MMA fighter Kevin Ferguson, more popularly known by his screen name, Kimbo Slice.
Slice had his 15 minutes of fame by trading blows with and knocking out burly street punks on amateur videos spread mainly through YouTube. He racked up quick wins in the MMA circuit with fighters of diminished capacity. This included a win over a washed-up Tank Abbott.
His fame lasted as long as the time it took him to face a fairly respectable MMA prospect in Seth Petruzelli, a semifinalist in the UFC's Ultimate Fighter 2. While a fairly decent fighter, Petruzelli failed to score a UFC win in two outings. He knocked Slice out cold in, well, 14 seconds.
Since then, Kimbo has been branded a farce, a product of Internet hype. Exposed for what he really is, as some would say—a street thug type of brawler who does not have the skill to cut it in any respectable MMA circuit.
Valero, for all his sensational wins, has not faced a great fighter. A few good ones, yes. But a very good or even a great fighter is a different story.
To prove his mettle (and set himself up for a meatier paycheck), Valero must face off with serious contenders the likes of Jorge Linares or Humberto Sotto in the super featherweight division, or even step up and tangle with a few lightweights the calibre of Joan Guzman, Joel Casamayor, and Michael Katsidis, to name a few.
Watching Valero, one can see the raw power in his fists, which he uses like a baseball bat in a street rumble, swinging almost wildly with wide, telegraphed angles. But once they hit their mark, it's curtains down. If such natural power can be harnessed and refined by the likes of Freddie Roach or Nacho Beristain, Valero can be boxing's next big thing.
But for his star to rise, and to show that he is more than the product of clever and selective matchmaking, Valero's promoters must make him square off with a top contender. Let's see how those bombs match up against elite fighters.
When that does happen, we will find out if he is either Kimbo's twin brother or something different altogether.