On the January 17th edition of Tha’ Boxing Voice Radio, Orlandito Del Valle called in as a guest of the show.
Ever since bursting onto the scene and gaining hype as Puerto Rico’s next big prospect, Del Valle has remained quiet in the recent months after suffering his first professional loss against hard-punching veteran, Vic Darchinyan (38-5-1, 27 knockouts). After losing to Darchinyan in September, Del Valle took time away from the sport and the media spotlight, leading many to wonder where his head might be after suffering such a loss.
“Well, after my last fight, as everybody knows, I lost against a great fighter, and future hall of famer, Vic Darchinyan. After that loss I took about a month and a half to two months off, and I went to enjoy [time with] my family. I spent Christmas, New Years, and everything [with them], but I’ve been on the road back for over a month already; I’m running. As everybody knows now that the word already came out, we are in talks with Nacho Beristain for us to go down there and work on my skills, work on my craft in hopes that I could improve and make it better.”
Del Valle recently made headlines after he announced plans to work with boxing legend and hall-of-fame trainer, Nacho Beristain. In a move that surprised many, questions immediately arose concerning where Del Valle would actually be training. As a Puerto Rican, will he be looking to spend his training camps in Mexico, or will he instead split time between Mexico and New York?
Yes, [I will be training in Mexico]. That’s where his gym is, and when you want to work with the best, or get something done, you can’t wait for it to come to you; you have to go get it, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why….It’s not that we’re taking our time, or extend the news that has already been confirmed, but it’s just that going into Mexico takes a few things that have to get done. I’m not from Mexico, and nothing against the Mexican people, who have been great, but it’s also not the safest place. With wherever I have to go, we are working on where I’m going to be at, how long it’s going to take me to get from point A to point B, where I’m going to do my grocery shopping or my laundry, all of those little details are what we are working on. We are hoping to finally get a place, and make it happen because I can’t wait to go over there. That’s basically it. The contact has been made, Nacho is up for it, we’re up for it, and it’s a go.”
With Del Valle bringing up the idea of having to find somewhere to live in Mexico, some were left wondering why he wouldn’t just live with Beristain in his home. With Beristain being an old-school trainer, it’s no surprised to hear stories of him taking in fighters while training in an effort to not only keep them safe, but focused as well. A prime example of this kind of trainer-fighter dynamic was the relationship between the late Emmanuel Steward and middleweight Andy Lee. This kind of professional relationship is nothing new to the sport, so one couldn’t help but be surprised when Del Valle spoke about still having to find a solution for his living arrangements.
“Honestly, with what I’m going for I’ll stay in a box [if I have to]. I’ll stay wherever they say. We initiated the contact with Nacho. Personally, I haven’t spoken to him, but our adviser who made the contact is the one who is getting everything done. That’s something that maybe could happen, I’m not saying it will either, but Nacho doesn’t know me. He’s never seen me in person, and I’ve never spoken to him before so I guess it’s one of those things where you wouldn’t want to bring a stranger in to live in your house just outta nowhere. You would probably have to get a feel for him first, probably click with him, and if it works maybe he’ll say, Hey, I’ll make it easier for you. Just come join me in my house and whatever, whatever. As of now we have to get to know him first. This, for me and my team, is an experiment that we’re doing because Nacho is a great trainer, but I know in the past he probably didn’t click with other fighters. I’m shooting for the stars, and hoping that if we get this done everything will go great. For now, we’ll just have to take it one day at a time. ”
Another popular question among the media is simply, why Nacho? With names like Virgil Hunter, Robert Garcia, and (the recently unlucky) Freddie Roach there is no shortage of big name trainers available here in the United States.
“If you notice on all of Nacho’s fighters, their styles all look alike, more or less. All of Nacho Beristain fighter’s styles look alike. Now I’m not saying I’m anything like Juan Manuel Marquez, he’s an icon and a living legend, but I visualize my style, in that I counter-punch and stuff , and it’s kind of similar to Marquez. I don’t have that punching power, but I hurt people. I also have nice boxing skills. We thought if Nacho could polish this as well as he’s polished guys like Juan Manuel Marquez and all other fighters he’s worked with, the potential reward from this could be priceless. I’ve really got a similar style, so like I said, all I need some work, a little here and a little there, and this will basically be a new start for me. That’s what I really think it was. Just to mention names, Floyd Mayweather’s uncle for example. Let’s say we would’ve picked him. His style is different, so if worked with him my style would probably change completely or I just wouldn’t be able to adjust to him. With me going to Nacho, my style is similar so I know he’s going to work on improving my defense, along with different things, and I know that I’ll be able to adjust quickly. That something I looked into, and ultimately we decided to just go for it. ”
In working with Beristain, Del Valle has to understand that there’s bound to be some controversy should Nacho decide to bring the controversial Angel Heredia on board as Del Valle’s strength and conditioning coach. Unfortunately, this all seems to be speculation as Heredia may only be contracted to work with Marquez, rather than Nacho’s entire stable of fighters.
“Honestly, I don’t know if his strength and condition guy (Angel Heredia) only works for him (Marquez), or if he works for all of Nacho’s fighters. From what I know, Nacho has a conditioning trainer, but I don’t know if it’s him (Heredia) or if he has another guy over there. As for right now, the little bit that we have talked about is that once we get down there he’s (Nacho) going to take care of everything. Like I said, he’s got his conditioning coach. Who is it? I don’t know, but it’s a question I’ll find out about tomorrow or within the next few days. I can’t afford bringing my strength and conditioning guy from Puerto Rico to [Mexico] so I’ll definitely be using the strength and conditioning guy that Nacho has, but I have yet to find out if it will be Marquez’ conditioning guy. ”
As boxing news outlets continue reporting on the Del Valle/Beristain partnership, one big question is what was it about Puerto Rico’s current boxing system that led Del Valle to seek help from Mexico’s Beristain? With local fighters recently falling on hard-times, it’s led some to question just what kind of quality boxing trainers and leaders are left over on the island.
“I will tell you that it is difficult [to find good trainers/training in Puerto Rico]. There are a lot of guys, a lot of trainers who will be like Who does Orlandito think he is? Does he think his shit doesn’t stink? That he can just pick anybody from his own jar? The honest truth is that I think we Puerto Ricans are staying behind in the game. While everybody is improving, this is the first time in history where we are really struggling. I believe everything is a change, from the amateurs all the way to the pros, and I think the big impact we’re having is in the amateur game. The guys are not getting the right kind of fighting, or even travelling. These guys are fighting in Puerto Rico against each other, and the only time they travel is for important tournaments. They aren’t going outside for tournaments like other countries do where they send their fighters to fight abroad, or even to other training camps. In Puerto Rico, the amateurs are lacking of that. The only fighter who travels is the number one guy, so he’s the only one who is really able to develop. Still, they don’t develop the right way because they don’t go overseas. They only fight in South America and Central America. They don’t even fight in the United States. Nothing against the people of South or Central America, but we (Puerto Rican’s) dominate them. Guys from Colombia and Nicaragua are able to hold their own, but it’s known throughout history that some of those countries don’t hold their own on the boxing game. So they send them to fight over there and they dominate, but they don’t send them where the real competition is. So when it’s time for them to improve, most of them have never had experience like I did when I left Puerto Rico. I travelled all over the world, so I had the opportunity to see different things, see different styles, and fight different fighters. I see this with my own eyes when I see fighters from Puerto Rico. You see guys that seem to be world-champion caliber, but they still have a lot of work to do, yet they are already pros. As far as the trainers over here, I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to be putting a bad taste in anybody’s mouth, but I really feel like we’re just falling behind. Everything needs to change, and the first thing that’s hurting us is [how we handle] the amateurs. The amateur system isn’t developing fighters the right way, and when they go pro they all still seem to need a lot of work. ”
The idea of Del Valle working with Beristain also introduces an interesting dynamic. The long-standing rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico seems to be about as old as boxing itself. With both sides being intensely proud of their respective lands, is Del Valle expecting some kind of backlash for a career move that many may view as an instance of “joining the enemy”?
“I’ll tell you this, and honestly, I love Puerto Rico and I love having my people behind me. The little bit that I have read about the news, I’ve had to go to different websites and have looked into it, and I’ll tell you that it surprised me that 100% of the comments have all been positive. I thought that it was going to be like a 50-50 as far as being sayings it’s good, and others saying Oh, why didn’t he pick one of his own, but my own people are recognizing that we need a change. People have been saying that’s what I should’ve done a long time ago. Right now, they (the people) are supportive. If they take it good, it’s appreciated, and if they take it as bad, I’ll tell you this, I will keep representing my people 100% and at the end of the day only time will tell. At the same time this is a business, and whoever is going to bring more to me, I’ll go to. You have to look at it in a commercial way too. Me coming off a loss and making a change with a trainer who is a living legend will basically put me in the same spot before that loss. People will be like Look, he made a change so this should benefit him. There are a lot of things that comes with the change, but so far so good. Another thing too, I read on a Mexican page some comments from Mexicans, and I was surprised. I thought it’d be things like Why is this guy coming over here? Or If you can’t beat the enemy, join the enemy .Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. I read this one guy’s comment and he says that, He’s a great kid, and us Mexicans will receive him with open arms. I came off thinking that’s a good thing, and certainly something I wasn’t expecting. I may be from Puerto Rico, but we all speak the same language so at the end of the night we all represent each other. When it’s time to step in the ring against one of them, it’s nothing but….sure, we’ll keep our rivalry or whatever, but at the end of the fight we’re still gonna hug and extend each other our hands. That’s what I love about the sport. ”
By the end of the interview, it’s easy to see that Del Valle is curious what the future has in store for him. With an optimistic outlook, as well as a more mature approach to fighting, Del Valle is shaping up to be a much improved version of what he used to be. The verdict is still out on just how well this experiment between himself and Nacho Beristain will work, but one thing is for sure, Del Valle is looking to make history.
“I think I am. I was thinking and going back over it in my mind, and I don’t think I have ever seen or heard of a fighter from Puerto Rico make a change like that and move to a Mexican trainer. If everything works out and we become world champions, then it’s going to be real history. That’s what it’s all about. I’m just trying to make history. ”
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For Full Audio of this interview click here: http://www.mixcloud.com/boxingvoiceradioshow/larry-merchant-johnathon-banks-orlandito-de-valle-thaboxingvoice/