10 Point Must by Devon Currer
Edwin Valero with a record of 27 wins all inside the distance and with 19 of those coming in the first round is the only champion in the history of the World Boxing Council who has won all his fights inside the distance.
This is a story of a fighter whose career defining question is that of “what could have been” as opposed to “what it was”. Like a meteor scorching its way through the night sky, he came from seemingly nowhere and lit up the world of boxing and vanished at the speed he lived his life.
Valero was born on December 3 1981 in the town of Bolero Alto in Venezuela. Having been raised in a slum, the only way out was through his fists. He took a shine to boxing at age 12 and compiled an amateur record of 86 victories and 6 losses with 57 coming inside the distance and became three-time Venezuelan champion and also annexed the title of Central and South American Amateur Champion.
As his name began to rise as a fighter, so too did the trappings of the limelight, namely drug and alcohol experimentation. Valero lived up to his street thug reputation by starting and ending fights with fellow teenagers and adults alike.
Before he had turned professional, Valero suffered the first setback of his career. On February 5 2001 he suffered a massive head trauma in a near-fatal motorcycle accident in which he was not wearing a helmet. He fractured his skull and required surgery when he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. Essentially having part of his brain tissue removed, this created difficulty for him to obtain a professional boxing license in the United States.
Valero who fought from the southpaw stance made his professional debut on July 13 2002 by way of a first round technical knockout of Eduardo Hernandez at 2:02. He rattled off another 18 first round inside the distance wins, a world record that has since been eclipsed by Tyrone Brunson, with one glaring inequality. Only one of Brunsons’ 19 victims had a winning record.
Valero took his first shot at a world title against WBA super featherweight champion Vincente Mosquera on August 5 2006. He started off in typical fashion by knocking down Mosquera twice in the first round. In the third, Mosquera sent Valero down. This would prove to be Valeros’ first and only knock down of his entire career.
At this point of Valeros’ professional fighting life, doubters had question marks over his stamina as his longest battle had only been 2 rounds. The answer would be provided deep into the tenth round when Mosquera had no answer for the fierce battery being doled out by Valero. The referee stepped in to call a halt to proceedings it the 2 minute mark.
The 24-year-old Valero would make four successful defences all inside the distance before deciding to move up a weight division in search of greater challenges.
On September 3 2009, Valero took on a fearsome puncher in the form of Antonio Pitalua for the vacant WBC lightweight title. Pitalua with a record of 46-3 entered the fight having carved 14 consecutive knockouts of his own.
Valero sent Pitalua down onto the canvas courtesy of his right hook only moments into the second round and struck Pitalua down on two more occasions later in that same round to capture the WBC lightweight title.
He made a successful defence against Hector Velasquez by means of a seventh round technical knockout and second title defence against Antonio DeMarco in Mexico which would become the last time he would ever step into a boxing ring again.
In the second round Valero suffered a severe gash over his right eye through an unintentional elbow thrown by DeMarco. Thanks to the savvy of his cut man in the corner, Valero was able to continue and began to batter DeMarco into submission when he could not answer the bell for the tenth round.
He then elected to vacate the WBC lightweight belt and move up to the light welterweight division and a possibly match with Manny Pacquiao. However, this did not happen.
Valero and his battles with addiction had long since been eating away at his life and in 2007 he was arrested over the first of the common assault charges that came from a man who claimed that Valero had attacked his mother and sister.
Less than 3 years later in 2010 Valero would face another set of allegations and this time from his wife. She required medical attention for the bruising and damaged lung. The response from Valero was that his wife, Jennifer Carolina Viera, had stumbled down a flight of stairs at the family home. Since this was the second time Viera had been treated for injuries of this nature, the suspicion from the doctors caused Valero to act violently towards them and this earned him a proposed 6 month stint in psychiatric rehabilitation. After 9 days in the facility, friends of the fighter posted bail making Valero eligible to be set free.
Valeros’ manager, Jose Castillo argued that the courts reluctance to be firm on Valero is the root cause of the tragedy that would end both Valero and his wife Jennifer Vieras’ lives.
The Venezuelan government had made arrangements for Valero to attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Cuba but he missed the flight. Valero also had a police detail that was charged with supervision of the fighter but he managed to evade them with his wife and turned up days later halfway across the country at a hotel in Valencia. The fighter had an 8 year old son and a 5 year old daughter that were placed in the care of their grandmother prior to this unscheduled trip to Valencia. It was in this hotel room where Edwin Valero was arrested for the suspicion of murdering his wife, an admittance the fighter made to hotel security and policemen as they lead him away from the hotel.
The following day, Edwin Valero was found dead in his prison cell with his track suit pants tied around his neck in a constrictive suicide. The fighter was 28 years old.
Boxing is a sport where, if you are not one hundred percent committed to its cause, it will take from you more than you can get out of it. While Edwin Valero amassed an undefeated record and won two world titles without a single bout going its scheduled distance, his life was ruined by his addiction to alcohol and drugs. The potential of “What could have been” is a question that can be debated but never answered. His life lost too early that most certainly robbed boxing fans of a career that was entering its prime while ridding the world of a psychotic murderer. We will never truly know how good Edwin Valero could have been.