It has been nearly two years since Luis “Orlandito” Del Valle premiered on HBO. He was the up and coming prospect from Puerto Rico and he represented one of the few bright spots for a country that has become accustomed to great fighters.
He seemed to have all the intangibles: great face, passionately articulate, and the kind of fighting style a promoter could work with when building a following.
Even though he wasn’t the main attraction that night you wouldn’t have known it by his demeanor. Del Valle was poised to breakout and he knew it.
He was being matched tough with veteran fighter Vic Darchinyan, an Armenian born fighter with an awkward style known for befuddling even the most tried and tested fighters. But that didn’t matter to Del Valle, he was prepared physically and he knew this was his opportunity to showcase his abilities against the presumably past his prime Darchinyan.
However, on this night Del Valle’s allure wasn’t enough to overcome Darchinyan’s wily persistence, actually the allure was the least of Del Valle’s problems that night.
“Orlandito” was the A-side of the bout and the promise of his prowess was overstocked at this point. While he was close to the level of marketability loosely associated with fighters on the verge of a breakout, his in-ring capabilities weren’t as refined and he paid the price for moving up too quick.
There was another issue for Del Valle that night. One thing that is often taken for granted in the pop culture dominated world of sports is the transition into the limelight, especially when the athlete derives from meager beginnings.
Del Valle admits that the moment was overwhelming and his performance was affected by it. HBO is more than just a premium network with terrific programming, it also represents the upper echelon to a fighter on the verge of stardom. It can bring out the little something extra in a fighter on the cusp of greatness, but it can also startle the nerves of a fighter not quite ready to make the leap.
“When I fought Vic and I saw myself on the big screen I got struck,” Del Valle told Thaboxingvoice.com on our twice weekly radio show. “I was like ‘this is what people are really watching’ and I got so hype that when that bell rung I just jumped on him.”
Adjacent to adverse effect is adverse effect and Del Valle was so overcome with emotion that he reacted in a hyper propelled hysteria, allowing his emotions to dictate what he did, rather than staying calm and fighting his fight.
“Instead of me getting struck by the lights and being gun-shy, I just jumped on him and next thing I knew it was the 7th round,” Del Valle admitted.
The more common reaction, or at least the one most people can identify with, is the one that leads a fighter to clam up and refrain from punching. But the opposite happened with Del Valle, he got overzealous, which is just as destructive to a fighter in his position.
It was a disappointing outcome for a fighter whose reach exceeded his grasp and he has been gearing up towards another opportunity.
Del Valle is ready to give it a second go this Saturday when he takes on fellow Puerto Rican countryman Luis Rosa in a scheduled 10 round bout at the junior featherweight limit.
“This time I know what it feels like to be there and if I have to box I will box, if I have to put pressure then I will because he doesn’t know how to fight backwards. We’re going to come out with the win,” Del Valle said.
Del Valle will get his opportunity once again to fight on HBO, but under different circumstances this time.
He will have the familiarity of being on the televised portion of an undercard involving Javier Fortuna and Juan Antonio Rodriguez as the night’s main attraction, but this time around he is being billed as the opponent, and as the B-side he understands the dynamics of the promotion much better, whether he agrees with his position or not.
“It can serve as motivation or it can put you down, but I’m not thinking about the promotion or who is A-side or B-side. I need to buy a house, Luis Rosa is in the middle of my business and I need to take care of him in order for me to achieve my goal. I need to get me a house and boxing is the only way I know I can do it quicker and better because it is all I know how to do. I’m taking advantage of my prime.”
The circumstances are much different for Del Valle from a personal standpoint as well. As he alluded to in the interview, Del Valle has a different set of priorities compared to his first appearance on HBO with the birth of his daughter playing such a huge roll in his life, and these responsibilities have become the catalyst for his new outlook on life as it relates to his career.
“Since my daughter came around the way that I look at this is way different. I’m not chasing belts, I’m not chasing fame, I’m chasing a house and I’m chasing the security of my wife, my daughter and my family and it’s a whole different meaning,” Del Valle explained.
There is a sense of urgency in Del Valle this time around and the maturity factor could play out in a beneficial manner. Just like the opposing affects the limelight can have on a fighter, so too can the addition of a child. These kind of responsibilities can either act as a motivator, or be the primary reason for feeling consumed to the point of self-destruction.
Del Valle isn’t the hot prospect with dreams of materialistic possessions on his mind this time, he is now a family oriented man with the desire to provide for his family. Success in boxing doesn’t mean the playboy life in Puerto Rico, soaking up the sun on a beach full of women ready to stroke his ego. Instead, success translates into stability and the necessary means as his family’s finical provider.
As for Del Valle 2.0 and how that will translate in the ring, he says the work he’s done with his new trainer Emilio “Milo” Lozada has paid dividends. On a previous show, Del Valle said on Thaboxingvoice’s airwaves that he was looking for both a change in trainer and scenery.
That led Del Valle to Mexico to train under famous Mexican trainer Nacho Beristain. However, the cost of living became too much for Del Valle to continue training in Mexico and that luxury was no longer an option after four months and one fight under the Hall of Fame trainer.
“When I came back from camp my girl got pregnant and I couldn’t go back. Right now I’m training in Puerto Rico, but I found myself a hell of a trainer in Emilio and we’ve been training [together] for over a year and we’ve just been waiting on the opportunity like the one we’re getting [Saturday].”
Del Valle described himself as a young veteran, an appropriate narrative given his career thus far, but Rosa is the A-side and Del Valle is the opponent.
None of that matters to Del Valle and he admitted that the date was originally supposed to be for a 122lb tournament HBO was planning, but when that fell apart the fight with Rosa was offered, a fight Del Valle says Rosa was offered once before but then turned down by the Team Rosa. In order to secure the Rosa fight without complications this time around, Del Valle says he offered to be the B-side, although his offer may have been a moot point.
“They offered me this date because there was going to be a 122lb tournament, that’s when they gave me the date, but it fell through and they ended up offering me Rosas. I told them if there is going to be problems then make me the B-Side. Let them feel like they’re getting a showcase, but it’s a big mistake and they know it.”
There is some dispute as to whether Rosa’s team was offered the fight prior to now, but that dispute has caused some real drama in the build up to the fight. Rosa has had some pretty harsh words for Del Valle, but those feelings have gone unrequited on the part of Del Valle, who insists this fight is just another fight against another fighter and there is no bad blood on his part.
It may just be another fight for Del Valle, but it is clear that the significance of a single fight has taken on a new and more drastic connotation for Del Valle. Whether or not that is the incentive “Orlandito” needed will become more evident after Saturday’s fight.