Oscar Valdez signs with Top Rank

Updated: October 15, 2012, 11:06 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Two-time Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez, the most sought-after member of the 2012 Mexican national team, has signed a promotional contract with promoter Top Rank, the company announced.

The 21-year-old Valdez, who also fought in the 2008 Olympics, boxed as a bantamweight in the London Games and won his first two bouts to advance to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by eventual silver medalist John Joe Nevin of Ireland. That loss came despite forcing the referee to give Nevin an eight-count after he landed a body shot in the final round.

Valdez signed a five-year deal and received an undisclosed signing bonus.

"I am looking forward to Top Rank directing the next stage of my boxing career," said Valdez, who is bilingual. "I worked very hard to qualify for the Olympics and I will train twice as hard fighting as a professional."

Manager Frank Espinoza, who signed Valdez during the summer, said Valdez will campaign as a professional featherweight. He is due to make his pro debut on Nov. 3 in Hermosillo, Mexico, where he lives.

"I am very pleased to have Oscar Valdez sign with Top Rank," Espinoza said. "I have firsthand knowledge of what great work they can do for a boxer and that makes me feel secure about Oscar's future in professional boxing."

Espinoza managed former junior featherweight titlist Enrique Sanchez and former junior bantamweight titleholder Martin Castillo, both Mexicans who were promoted by Top Rank.

Top Rank has excelled in promoting some of the top Mexican and Mexican-American stars of the past 20-plus years, including Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Jorge Arce, Antonio Margarito and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Valdez also drew interest from other promoters, including Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank's chief rival.

"Oscar is really happy and excited to be working along with Top Rank," Espinoza said. "They've shown great judgment in the past. I'm looking forward to seeing him develop into something special. Boxing needs stars and I'm positive that he will develop into one. We had conversations (with Golden Boy). This is a business. We had to explore our options. I'm happy with what Golden Boy has done with my other fighters (such as Ronny Rios and Carlos Molina) but Top Rank was a better fit for us. Top Rank stepped up to the table and showed they truly believe in Oscar's potential.

"Even though Oscar didn't win a gold medal in the Olympics, his performances made an impression. He's a boxer-puncher with a tremendous body attack. When I look at a fighter I look at certain characteristics, like he that has great ring generalship and intelligence. But he also has personality and charisma, and you need all of that to make a star. He has that star potential and a pro style of fighting."

Said Top Rank president Todd duBoef, "I think he could be one of the most popular fighters in (Mexico). He already has major sponsors supporting him in Mexico, so the corporations know him. The people know him because he's a very heralded Olympian. If you followed him in the (2012) Olympics, he lost the match (to Nevin) but dropped the guy with a body shot. He has that pro style embedded in him."

The signing of Valdez gives Top Rank the top Mexican prospect to go along the top Puerto Rican Olympic prospect. It signed 19-year-old Puerto Rican Olympic lightweight Felix Verdejo last week.

Top Rank has a tremendous track record when it comes signing and developing prospects out of the Olympics, including three fighters who became superstars: De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto.

Other Olympians who signed with Top Rank out of the Olympics who went on to great pro success include two-division champion and pound-for-pound list stalwart Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon and two-division titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez, both of Puerto Rico.