This was beyond the punch statistics and the damaged faces.
The best way to illustrate the quality of featherweight champion Oscar Valdez’s successful Saturday title defense against overweight Scott Quigg was seen and heard elsewhere.
Valdez’s jaw was broken, and his teeth were so broken apart he couldn’t remove his mouthpiece during the later rounds. Quigg’s nose looked broken and a cut from his left eye dripped steadily. A clean ring floor at fight’s start was sprayed red by the end.
“I’ve been splattered by blood three times,” a ringside photographer said.
Valdez (24-0) required hospitalization afterward, but that ambulance trip was sweet considering he’s added his name to the lore of StubHub Center’s reputation as the war grounds.
Judges Max DeLuca and Terry O’Connor awarded Valdez victory by scores of 117-111 and Larry Hazzard Jr. gave Valdez a 118-110 nod, more one-sided than the wounds of the battle indicated.
This time, on a rainy night that diminished the crowd size, Valdez dug deep to defend his 126-pound belt against an opponent who ballooned to 142.2 pounds on Saturday, nearly seven pounds heavier than Valdez.
“Scott’s a tremendous fighter; look what he did to my teeth,” Valdez said before leaving to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “Good thing we got the result because he hit me with good shots.”
Asked if he has immediate plans for Valdez after the inspired triumph that lifts his fighter to equal stature alongside fellow Southern California featherweight champions Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares, promoter Todd DuBoef said, “Heal.”
Valdez battered Quigg, too, out-landing him 237-143 overall and 175-129 in power punches.
“I’m ready for whoever,” said Valdez, who wears the World Boxing Organization belt. “I’m a champion.”
DuBoef was in legitimate awe of his fighter, who grew weary of an argument between camps over forcing Quigg to weigh in less than a certain number Saturday morning and ordered his team to stop the discussion, insisting he’d punish Quigg himself in the ring.
“He showed his courage,” DuBoef said. “We always talk of adversity defining a fighter. He breaks his jaw in the fifth round … and the weight. When you drain yourself to lose the weight, there’s a psychological thing where he went through a ton of adversity.
“You couldn’t ask for a performance better than that.”
Quigg promoter Eddie Hearn revealed after the fight that Quigg’s unsuccessful bid to make weight was hampered by a right foot stress fracture in training camp.
“He was in terrible physical condition. It was no benefit to him” weighing 142.2 Saturday, Hearn said. “He wasn’t in the best shape he could be.”
After Valdez out-moved and piled up some early rounds, Quigg shrugged off being cut around the left eye and broke the champion’s jaw in the fifth with a hard right.
Valdez fought with an open mouth from then on, and trainer Manny Robles refused to take out the mouthpiece.
Quigg’s nose was broken around the sixth, but herallied with powerful combinations and clean punches in the eighth and again in the ninth.
As Quigg’s nose inflated, the pair kept brawling, with Valdez disproving Quigg trainer Freddie Roach’s theory that the champion had cardio issues.
Coming off a low blow in the 11th, Valdez belted Quigg in the head with a power punch and the pair went toe to toe at the end of the 12th.
“He fought through the situation, through the circumstances and fought his heart out,” Robles said. “He fought a welterweight tonight, but Oscar’s a warrior. There was no quit in him.”