Oscar Valdez believes that he can emulate Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera in his fight with Emanuel Navarrete at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona this weekend.
Valdez fights Mexican rival and WBO super-featherweight champion Navarrete live on Sky Sports Main Event or Sky Sports Action from 2am on Sunday morning.
Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera will be ringside for the fight and make a presentation to the victor.
“Those two fighters inspired me to be the fighter that I am,” Valdez told Sky Sports. “It means a lot for us Mexican fighters to be called a guerrero, a warrior.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve dreamed about these types of fights,” he continued.
“We know about ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete’s style, everybody seen my style so, I think that these styles will be a perfect match to give the fans what they want.
“The fans want to see blood. They want to see a war. They want to see someone hit the canvas.
“So, we’re up for it. Every time you got two Mexican fighters inside the ring, there’s always fireworks.”
There is personal pride and national pride to consider and Valdez is determined to deliver the type of contest people expect.
“I’m expecting a good fight, a war. Many fighters might be a little bit nervous, but on the contrary for me, it’s like bring it on,” he said.
“I was born for this. It only gets more motivating when I hear these types of things, that people are expecting a war. I don’t see another way in this fight.
“Navarrete is a tough fighter. He’s proved it before. He got sent to the canvas when he got knocked down by [Liam Wilson] and he showed that he had a lot of heart by getting up and then later stopping him. It just shows what type of fighter ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete is.
“In my case, I won’t back down.”
He longs to win this fight and become a world champion once again.
“This fight right now is the biggest fight of my life. It means everything to me,” he said. “When I lost my title against Shakur Stevenson, I realized how much I love boxing and how much I miss being called a champion. I miss feeling like a champion as well,” he said.
“The moment that I lost it against Stevenson, the world fell on top of me.
“That’s why this fight means the world to me right now because I have to get back to where I left off.”
A marker of Valdez’s unique determination can be seen in how he fought through a broken jaw to beat Scott Quigg. It was a gruesome injury. Yet Valdez was not derailed.
“For me, losing is not an option. For me, the quitting part, the part that just letting it slide easy, it’s not for me. I will always fight to the end,” he said.
“I get those questions a lot. How did I do it with the jaw injury in the fifth round and continuing all those rounds with the broken jaw? For me, I couldn’t [quit]. There’s no possible way for me to say, ‘No mas, I can’t continue.'”
Valdez career of late has included the high of a spectacular stoppage victory over Miguel Berchelt to win the WBC super-featherweight title and his crushing loss to Shakur Stevenson in a unification bout.
But Valdez unwinds at his ranch Mexico where he keeps a menagerie of exotic animals.
“It’s my favourite spot back there,” he said. “It’s my peace. It’s where I get out and just detoxify myself from the world.
“Because when you’re in training camp, you’re boxing all day, before you go to sleep, you’re always thinking about the game plan, thinking about the boxing, thinking about the rival, thinking about somebody out there that’s training hard to knock myself out. It can become stressful.
“So, once we finish the fights, we go back to the ranch. Nothing but family, nothing but love, peace, and all my animals. It’s just my favourite spot.”
Valdez has an alligator called Steve, that he even swims with.
“It’s a great experience being able to swim with an alligator and not everyone can do that,” Valdez said.
He maintains that is neither a stressful nor a dangerous pastime, adding cheerfully: “I’ve got good head movement.”
Watch Emanuel Navarrete fight Oscar Valdez for the WBO super-featherweight title live on Sky Sports Main Event or Sky Sports Action from 2am on Sunday morning.