Oscar Valdez unlikely to be fit to face Carl Frampton at Windsor Park in August
MICHAEL Conlan doubts whether his former stablemate Oscar Valdez will be fit to face Carl Frampton at Windsor Park in August.
Conlan – who makes his home debut at the SSE Arena in Belfast on June 30 – regularly sparred with hammer-handed Mexican Valdez before he swapped the Rock Gym in Los Angeles for Adam Booth’s gym in London.
He is confident that Valdez would be willing to make the trip to Belfast, but WBO champion Valdez had his jaw broken in an otherwise dominant title defence against Scott Quigg in March. His jaw had to be wired afterwards and so Conlan feels he won’t have fully recovered in time to take on ‘the Jackal’.
“I sparred Oscar and he’s a really talented guy,” said Conlan.
“If you had asked me 12 months ago I would probably have advised Carl not to take it.
“But watching Valdez’s last three performances, he seems like when he gets down to featherweight he doesn’t have the power he carries in the gym. He seems to get hit a lot more in fights than he does in the gym so I’m leaning towards Carl if it happens.
“I think Oscar would be willing to travel to face Carl if the money and everything is right and it would be unbelievable fight for Windsor, but I don’t think it happens at Windsor because he’s only back from the broken jaw.
“He had his jaw wired, so you have a six-to-eight week recovery before you get the wires out.
“He’s probably got them out now and he’ll have another 12 weeks before he can take impact on it. That’s an awful lot.
“That would leave six weeks so it might be enough time but you couldn’t bank on it because anything could happen in sparring and he could get injured again. It would take a lot of time to get your confidence back from an injury like that.”
Meanwhile, Conlan admits that he was taken aback by Frampton’s flattering comments on Saturday night. After his win over Nonito Donaire, Frampton – the North’s first two-weight world champion – predicted that Conlan would match, then surpass, his achievements.
“I’ll be doing really well to do that,” he said.
“What Carl has done has been nothing short of phenomenal because he’s done the two weights, he is selling out arenas the whole time and he has a crazy following.
“It’s some compliment from him and I’ll take it board and try to get up to his level at some stage. I know I’ll need to work hard for it, but I really appreciated Carl’s comments.”
By Anthony Gunning
NONITO Donaire came to Belfast hoping to beat a local hero, but he left as an adopted son of the city following his unanimous points defeat to Carl Frampton at the SSE Arena on Saturday night.
The ‘Filipino Flash’ was on a charm offensive all week and won the hearts of fight fans who turned out in their numbers at The Crown bar on Sunday night to bid the future Hall of Famer farewell.
“It has been amazing,” said Donaire of his visit.
“From the moment I got here, everyone has been amazing, really nice and really kind, assisting my team in any way they can.
“I have had no bad experience from the moment I got here.
“Regardless that I didn’t get the decision and came up short, everything was just amazing.
“I’m going to go home with a friend forever in Carl Frampton and we are going to support each other. Belfast, the fans and the crowd was an amazing experience.”
Donaire was out-gunned by Frampton on the night and lost a unanimous decision, but he was dangerous throughout and came close to pulling it out of the fire in the 11th round when he rocked the Tiger’s Bay man who was forced to retreat.
At 35 years of age, perhaps Donaire’s best days are behind him, but there was no suggestion that this was his career over when he reflected on Saturday’s fight.
“I can smile still because that was Frampton I lost to,” he said.
“That’s not a b-level or c-level fighter – that’s an a-level fighter right there. That’s a champion right there.
“I went out there and almost took it from him, it was close, so my head is high.
“I’m going to go back in the gym, get better and be inspired by this experience.”
The trademark left hook that hurt the north Belfast man in the penultimate round was reminiscent of Donaire’s 2013 stoppage win over pre-fight favourite Vic Darchinyan when, trailing on the cards, he produced the goods to force a stoppage.
“He took everything I gave him and that was the big difference between the Darchinyan one – Frampton took it,” said Donaire.
“I think a lot of it was that everyone was screaming for him and he took the energy from that. He stood his ground and took the punches.
“We just went out there and gave it all we got. The best man won, but we did give everything. Everybody had fun and that’s what it’s all about.”
PADDY Gallagher set off to Louisville, Kentucky yesterday for his quarter-final clash with Brad Solomon in the Jose Sulaiman World Invitational tournament on Friday night (live on BoxNation around 2am).
Welterweight ‘Pad Man’ was added to the final eight after Russian Radzhab Butaev withdrew with a shoulder injury. The Belfast man, a hard-hitting pressure fighter, intends to go all the way in this competition with the quarter and semi-finals (in July) over 10 rounds and the final, in October, scheduled for 12.
“I’m excited for it,” said Gallagher, from Dublin Airport yesterday.
“I’ve got a pro style and it’s an American pro style – rough and tough with head movement and I’m able to bang. That’s what they want over here, so it’s suited to me and I’m well up for it.
“Fighting back home at the Odyssey is brilliant too and I hope to do it a couple more times before I finish my career. All being well, I’ll get three fights here and win this tournament but this is something that definitely got me excited.”
In the other quarter-finals, South African Chris van Heerden (25-2-1) meets Timo Schwarzkopf (18-1), Fredrick Lawson (26-1) has drawn Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (13-1-1) and Francisco Santana (26-6-1) takes on number one seed Felix Diaz (19-2).
“The further you go the harder it gets,” said Gallagher.
“I want to get the win on Friday and then head for the semis and get some more confidence for the final when I meet the number one seed.
“I’m confident, I’ve had a lot of sparring and I’ve enjoyed it. It has been hard but it has been good craic and I’m very chilled and very calm because I know that I’ve done what needed to be done on the track and in the gym and in sparring. I set out eight weeks’ ago and said ‘right, over the next eight weeks this is what I’m going to do weight-wise and sparring-wise’.
“I’ve ticked all the boxes and got everything I wanted. I’ve done everything I could do and I’m more than confident that I’ll win the fight.”
In terms of preparation, Gallagher – who was 3-0 last year with two early wins including a Celtic Welterweight title victory over Gary Murray – says everything has gone to plan. He doesn’t except any jetlag or acclimatisation problems in Kentucky.
“It might be a wee bit hot,” he said, adding with a laugh: “But sure we had to good days in Belfast there – everybody was running about like they were living in Mexico - so that got me acclimatised for it.
“I’ll be grand, it’s 17-20 degrees and it’s raining a lot in Louisville so it’ll probably be like home only a wee bit warmer. They initially wanted us over on the Tuesday but I wanted a Monday flight so I have three days of rest before the fight.
“I have to make the weight but I have three days to get used to everything before I weigh-in and fight and I’ll be well relaxed.”