AT THE age of 33, and with two losses in his previous three, Mexican banger Oscar Valdez gets the kind of opponent one would expect from the expert matchmakers at Top Rank.

Valdez needs a win, and furthermore, he needs to look good against an opponent who is known to fans. Enter Australia’s Liam Wilson, an educated brawler from Queensland who only 14 months ago gave Emanuel Navarrete a huge scare in one of the fights of the year.

Wilson, 28, ultimately went down in nine rounds but there was a lingering sense of injustice; Navarrete was dropped heavily in the fourth, took his sweet time picking up the count and spat out his mouthguard to buy some extra seconds. Wilson went on to have further success in the sixth. His right hand, in particular, is a weapon to watch. Eventually, a mixture of wicked body punching and Navarrete using all his world class nous and experience got him through.

That Navarrete slugfest took place in the same Glendale Desert Diamond Arena that will host Valdez-Wilson over 12 super-featherweight rounds on Friday night (March 29).

Wilson, 13-2 (7), has subsequently won two 10-rounders back in Oz and, though they came against middling opposition (Carlos Maria Alanis and Jackson Jon England), at least he’s rediscovered that winning feeling. Valdez, meanwhile, comes into this off a loss. Further, it came to that man Navarrete, who widely outpointed Valdez over 12 rounds in a fiery scrap last August. Though Valdez outpointed Adam Lopez before that in May, the fact he was handily restrained by Shakur Stevenson in 2022 is another reason why the former WBC belt-holder’s confidence might not be what it was.

Wilson, then, seems to be exactly what Valdez needs. The Mexican, 31-2 (23), looks unlikely to be outboxed by Wilson and he’s surely durable enough to avoid being stopped. Also, Valdez will welcome Wilson’s approach to battle, and, in a shootout, there is surely only one winner.

In chief-support there’s a terrific scrap for all the strawweight belts as Los Angeles’ Seniesa Estrada, 25-0 (9), puts her WBA and WBC straps against the IBF and WBO titles owned by Costa Rica’s Nicaragua-born Yokasta Valle, 30-2 (9).

Valle has seen her stock rise since back-to-back losses in 2017-18 thanks to a 17-fight win streak that also saw her win two belts during a one-fight excursion to light-flyweight in 2022.

Estrada has also won belts in two divisions and will start as favourite. But Valle is improving all the time and her pressure style is superior to what Estrada has been outboxing with ease for several years. Expect a close one on the cards.