It’s been nearly 8 years since the sad story surrounding the end of the life of champion Edwin Valero but thoughts of my one and only time meeting him still run through my head like a crushing blow that can’t be ignored.
September 13, 2008 at the MGM grand in Las Vegas. I was there to cover the Juan Manuel Marquez-Joel Casamayor lightweight title bout. During the early part of the show, in a somewhat still empty arena, I spotted Paulie Malignaggi whom earlier in the day was part of the press conference to announce his November showdown with Ricky Hatton. Sitting with his advisor Anthony Catanzaro, he graciously agreed to spare a few minutes of his time for an interview. From there I was pointed in the direction of Promoter Lou Dibella and I got a few minutes of his time as well!
As the crowd began to grow and during an intermission shortly before the PPV telecast was going on air, Paulie comes back and asked me “Have you met Valero?” He then pointed him out in the crowd and leaned over to Dibella and said about the then boxing free agent, “Sign him! I don’t need him to hit me to know that he hits hard, I know he hits hard just by shaking his hand.” I then proceded to walk over and shake the infamous hand, and Paulie was right, in the brief encounter where I said hello it felt like had he shook my hand any longer my fingers may still be on the floor of the Grand Garden Arena to this day? While wishing him luck I tapped Valero on the shoulder and I have to this day said that he felt like a “terminator.”
While in Vegas Valero was training under the guidance of Kenny Adams who was the 1988 U.S. Olympic coach and former coach of the Army boxing team at Fort Hood, Texas. During a brief hello with Adams, the words “beast” and “monster” would be used to describe Edwin as Adams spoke of his power and work ethic in the gym.
Unlike the turmoil that would prematurely end the careers of the likes of Tony Ayala, Jo-el Scott, and Ike Ibeabuchi, Valero had reached success and become a world champion. For all his devastation in the ring, however, one on the outside has to wonder who was around to protect him outside the ring? Throughout his career in the spotlight there were constant reports of D.U.I.’s, drug use and domestic abuse. His outside the ring troubles likely prevented mega showdowns? During the post fight press conference after Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Miguel Cotto in 2009, Promoter Bob Arum was asked about a possible Pacquiao-Valero match up should a Pacquiao showdown with Floyd Mayweather fall through? Arum answered in semi disgust about the potential of that particular bout: “It would be a great fight, but Valero isn’t allowed into the United States.” Arum would explain that Valero, while in town and in country to attend the Pacquiao-Hatton fight got a D.U.I. that night just down the road from the Las Vegas strip and then foolishly returned to Venezuela. Valero’s subsequent attempt to return to the states was denied pending completion of a safety and alcohol abuse course he would have to complete in either Mexico or in his native land. During that particular time Valero, through the media was commenting that he was not being allowed into America for political reasons because of the tattoo he had on his chest of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to which Arum’s quote was, “If he believes that, well then I guess there are two Morans in Venezuela?” Arum would then remind the crowd that he was 78 years old and can get away with saying that.
One only also wonders if Valero suffered brain damage? If you research the reason why U.S. athletic commissions would not let him fight, possible brain damage suffered in a motorcycle accident was the concern? Was it roid rage? If he was on roids was this another “Chris Benoit” type of rage? Maybe, it was cocaine withdrawal? Like so many suicides and lives that end too short, many questions for the remainder of time will never be fully answered, but within the sport, we had yet another tragic end to a very promising and exciting fighter, and that I’m sure many fans will agree, is a fact?
About the Editor
Army Veteran and former Professional Boxer Simon Ruvalcaba started boxing at the age of ten and Had a 71 fight amateur career which featured a 139 lbs. 1998 8th U.S. Army Boxing Championship out of Camp Casey, Korea and a spot on the prestigious Army Boxing Team at Fort Hood, TX. After a journeyman pro career of 18 fights, which included sparring sessions with many champions and contenders including Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whitaker, Simon started writing and has contributed to many publications and websites including fighthype.com, pound4pound.com, Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV) and also writes a monthly boxing column for Tahoeonstage.com. He has also been the Boxing Instructor for Ken Shamrock and The Lions Den and was UFC star Paige VanZant’s first boxing coach!
Born and Raised in South Lake Tahoe, California he now resides in Sun Valley, Nevada and spends as much time as possible with his Son Gabriel! Beyond boxing, Simon is an all around sports fanatic and is passionate about the teams that he roots for!