When Edwin Valero entered the record books with an unheralded 18th consecutive first round knockout – though since eclipsed by the ridiculed Tyrone Brunson at the expense of lesser opposition – the boxing world thought it had a next generation star on its hands.
The new Mike Tyson if you will, though all the more impressive considering Valero plied his trade in the lower weights where brutal stoppages of his brutally exhibited nature are often a rarity.
Maiden showings on lucrative US soil had been well received and a WBA super featherweight world title in his 20th bout for seeing off Vicente Mosquera led to five defences before his return to the States, once ties had been severed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions in typical hot-headed fashion, made him become a two division champion upon disposing of Antonio Pitalúa in two rounds at lightweight.
After going to Mexico and forcing Antonio DeMarco, the first big scalp on his CV, to commit an unspeakable act in local macho culture by retiring on his stool after the ninth round, big things were lined up for the Venezuelan with talk abound of super fights with the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao – both of whom were making their own devastating multi-weight championship forays through the sport in an era that paved the way for the now automatically assumed modern day depth of talent and exciting fights among the supposed little men.
Then tragedy struck.
— Resumen de Noticias (@RDNVenezuela) December 3, 2015
On April 10th, 2010, with echoes of Sid Vicious’ fabled Chelsea Hotel nightmare, Valero stumbled down to reception from his room in the city of Valencia to inform staff that he had killed wife Jennifer, who had been stabbed three times in total, and was arrested promptly once the authorities were informed. On their watch, in the early hours of the following morning, Venezuela lost a national icon as Valero hung himself by his trousers in his holding cell.
This lofty status is cited as one of the main contributors to his downfall, in addition to untreated mental health issues possibly triggered by a cerebral haemorrhage which itself derived from a motorbike accident in 2001 that proceeded his induction to the paid ranks.
Treasured by president Hugo Chavez’s administration, and indeed boasting a chest-covering tattoo of the now-deceased revolutionary’s head on a Venezuelan flag backdrop, Valero became untouchable with some conspiracists bandying round theories that the pugilist was allowed to flee punishment shortly after his capture and now lives on the lam somewhere.
— Guacara Unidad (@GuacaraUnidad) August 19, 2016
Valero had been volatile for some time and, much like Tyson, substance abuse problems were a constant as he forced his bride to partake in drug use against her will, claimed Jennifer’s family. Those closest to him fearing reprisals from both Valero and the authorities, his behaviour was allowed to continue unchecked until even Valero’s own mother reported him for domestic abuse yet later withdrew her claim. Just weeks before the couple met their untimely deaths, the aptly-nicknamed ‘Dynamite’ had threatened a policeman who attended to a call out, such was the carte blanche handed to him to carry off however he pleased.
Of less importance in the grand scheme of things, considering that orphaned five and seven-year-old children were left behind in all this, from a boxing perspective it remains a shame that the Pacquiao fight never materialised.
In 2008, they hovered around the same bracket as feather and super featherweights; the Filipino namedropping Valero to the press and reeling him off as a contender – a dangerous, yet exciting opponent – up until his demise at the turn of the decade.
Much like De La Hoya had found Valero to be however, rival promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, who steered Pacquiao’s career to superstardom, branded him erratic. A “not normal” individual “who could go off at any time”.
Valero, a staunch Chavista and exactly the kind of Venezuelan – downtrodden, poor, uneducated – who propelled the socialist leader to power at the ballot box, blamed the chest piece for his US visa being revoked with a failure to mention being pulled for drink driving the week he became lightweight champion in Austin.
— Jon fernandez (@Jonfer1) June 22, 2016
As we now know he was never to leave his homeland again after the DeMarco victory, leaving us to ponder: had Pacquiao joined Valero’s ever growing list of knockout victims would it have been he, and not the idolised current senator, that would soar as high as welterweight to become one of the finest boxers of his generation and, along with Hector Camacho, an unmatched septuple weight class champion?