The Boxingtalk Interview: WBC 130-pound champ Miguel Berchelt

By Ivan Montiel


The Boxingtalk Interview: WBC 130-pound champ Miguel Berchelt

Ivan Montiel: Before we get started, I would like to congratulate you on your most recent win [technically a no-contest because the local boxing commission wasn’t present, but in reality, a sixth-round stoppage of Eleazar Valenzuela in late June].


Miguel Berchelt: Thank you, I am doing well health-wise here in Mexico with my family.


IM: You performed very well in your last outing, and the same goes with Oscar Valdez who stopped Jayson Velez earlier this week.  We now know that you guys will be finally fighting each other.


MB: Yes of course.This is the fight that everyone wants to see, the one fight which everyone is waiting for! Two Mexican fighters in their prime! Everyone knows this is going to be a war!


IM: Do you think Berchelt-Valdez could turn out to be like Marco Antonio Barrera versus Erik Morales?


MB: It could be… but you are raising the bar too high. Those are two great boxing legends. I do know Valdez and myself are going to leave our hearts in the ring.  We are going to do the best to match that Barrera versus Morales trilogy!


IM: How does it feel to know that many boxing fans support both you and Valdez with some saying that you are the next Mexican star?


MB: It motivates me, especially since I worked so hard to get where I am right now.  I am the WBC super featherweight champion with six title defenses.  There’s not too much time left for me to accomplish at 130 pounds. I would love to move up to lightweight and fight Vasiliy Lomachenko!


IM: A fight versus Lomachenko would be tremendous… 


MB: Yes without a doubt! Lomachenko is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters.  In order to become great, one has to beat boxers in the top five. I would put Lomachenko in the #2 pound-for-pound spot with Canelo Alvarez at #1 and Terence Crawford at #3.


IM: Do you see yourself on the pound-for-pound list?


MB: Well, I keep working hard in every fight. I believe that I have demonstrated it with the opponents I’ve faced.  I have given good fights.  I believe that my fights are exciting and the public loves watching me.  The public knows that I fight with emotions, I always give it my all.  That’s what boxing fans love to see.  I myself am a boxing fan so I know what it’s like to buy a ticket to see a good fight.  That is why I fight the way I do, I want to give everyone a specular performance.


IM: If you continue to perform the way you do who knows you could be mentioned alongside the all-time Mexican greats Julio Cesar Chavez and Juan Manuel Marquez.


MB: I would love to! Those are two great boxing legends! Mexico has many great legends. We would not be able to finish this interview if we were to mention them all.  To me, Chavez is the biggest Mexican fighter.  Marquez of course after knocking out Manny Pacquiao, that alone made Mexico proud. Mexico wanted to see Marquez end his rivalry with Pacquiao that way. And I would love to end my career like those two legends!


IM: Now talks to us about your most recent win. How satisfied were you with it?


MB: I was satisfied even though many thought Valenzuela was an easy opponent.  Many thought that I was going to easily knock him out. Everyone saw that I landed hard both upstairs as well downstairs. I connected from both sides, left and right but this guy was able to absorb punishment. No wonder his nickname is “tree trunk”. It doesn’t matter if an opponent is good or not… every fighter should respect his or her opponent.  Every fighter should try to put on a spectacular show.


IM: Your thoughts on Valdez’s win over Velez?


MB: Valdez looked very good in his prior fight versus Adam Lopez, Oscar was knocked down yet he was able to recover and win by knockout. As for Velez, Velez had never been knocked out before and Velez was able to hurt Valdez. In the end Valdez looked more damaged than Velez with all the bruising on his face. The height, reach and jab from Velez made things complicated for Valdez. Valdez is a Mexican warrior whom always comes to fight, and he was able to stop Velez.


IM: Velez said he wanted to fight you but of course, he lost to Valdez we now have Berchelt versus Valdez!


MB: It’s complicated path forward for Velez since he lost especially if he wants to fight a world champion. Velez must take a few steps back before fighting for a world title. Valdez is now the #1 mandatory  for me. I believe that he’s done enough to get this opportunity against me.   Valdez is a friend of mine but this will be a very good fight!


IM: Throughout the Valdez versus Velez fight, the commentators didn’t seem to be quite satisfied with Valdez’s performance saying that you [Berchelt] could very well be too much for him.


MB:  To the contrary, I believe that Valdez will be a tough fight for me.  Every opponent is different so we train differently for every fight, especially with what’s going on at the moment (coronavirus pandemic). Valdez is from Sonora, Mexico, which in fact is where I am living in.  We know each other very well. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a sport.  I am going to leave the best of me in that ring; I am going for the knockout!


IM: So you are going to look for the knockout, especially since you tend to fight going forwards, never backwards


MB: Well it depends. Sometimes I do fight going backwards like I did in my first title defense versus Takashi Miura. I fought very smart in that fight, I showed another version of El Alacran. I fought going backwards that time. Of course my idea of fighting is going forwards… I look to hurt you.


IM: Shakur Stevenson has mentioned your name, and he’s just moved up to your weight class (130 pounds). Many boxing fans would love to see you fight Stevenson.  Can we expect this fight sometime in the future?


MB: I would love to fight Stevenson but I must take things fight by fight. At the present moment, I don’t know what will happen after my fight versus Valdez. I must first respect the opponent that I have to fight first. I have to beat Valdez and if Stevenson, Lomachenko or perhaps Teofimo Lopez comes along, well here’s a warrior that can beat them!


IM: How does it feel having that WBC world title with everyone wanting to take it away from you?


MB: I feel happy! The best champions such as Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, all great champions have held the WBC world title [Editor’s note: all of those boxers have also held other titles as well]. It’s important to have this WBC super featherweight title! I always wanted this title, I always wanted to be amongst the best and that is why I am the best of my division.


IM: Have you begun training for Valdez?


MB: I am always training, I am always running, I am always keeping in shape.  Boxing is what I live for!  That way I won’t struggle making weight.


IM: Have you and Team Valdez negotiated anything yet?


MB: No but we are both Top Rank fighters as you know, Fernando Beltran and Bob Arum will talk to us once there’s a set date. I can’t wait!  It’s going to be a classic fight Mexico versus Mexico. You have to experience it. We know there will be blood and knockdowns… the show is guaranteed! 


IM: This fight could end up being like Israel Vazquez versus Rafael Marquez.


MB: Yes it could. Mexico versus Mexico is all about pride. Nobody wants to lose and Mexicans fight going forward. It’s like Floyd Mayweather Jr. says, if you have not fought a Mexican, you have fought nobodies!


IM: There has to be a crowd, everyone wants to see it live, so will it have to wait until live audiences are back for boxing?


MB: Yes. Promoters don’t want to miss out on them ticket sales and beer sales as well!  There will be lots of people wanting to attend. Hopefully this pandemic ends so that this fight happens in front of a crowd.


IM: If you had a choice of arena for this fight, which one would it, be?


MB: In Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, a place in which I have fought before but not as a champion. 


IM: Valdez really wants this fight. He truly believes that he can beat you and he wants to win that title from you.


MB: One thing is to say what you want. Another thing is to do it in the ring. I believe that I am the better fighter.  I had the opportunity to face Valdez in the amateurs, which was only a three-round fight. I feel a lot stronger, I feel that I have had the better opposition and I think that it’s going to be a difficult fight Valdez.  I think it would’ve been best for Valdez to go after the other world titles but if he wants my title, I already told him it’s going to cost him.


IM: What do you want to say to all of your fans around the world?


MB: Yes, I noticed those fans on social media. Boxing is a worldwide sport, that is one of the beautiful things about boxing!