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What Happened to Miguel Berchelt? (Or Authorities Should Look Into COVID-19's Effects on Boxers)


PhilBoxing.com



Nakathila dominates Berchelt during last weekend's fight in Las Vegas.

Miguel Berchelt, Alexander Povetkin, Nordine Oubaali. What is common among them?

All contracted Covid-19 that resulted in the cancellation and rescheduling of their important bouts. All eventually recovered from the viral infection after some time but lost their comeback fights.

Dismally.

Berchelt's losses were both by TKO, Povetkin and Oubaali by knockout respectively to Dillian Whyte and Nonito Donaire. Povetkin had previously been nominated for his lights out knockout win over Whyte for the vacant WBC interim heavyweight and heavyweight championship in 2021. Oubaali had done well in his previous title fights and defenses before the Donaire fight.

Curiously, all were doing very well with their boxing career before going down with the viral infection that took them away from training and active competition in favor of rest and medical attention for months.

Are their cases mere coincidences? Are we ready to just take training disruption, weight problem, simple stylistic mismatch or in the case of Povetkin, well advanced age, as reasons for their defeats?

Or authorities ought to look deeply and more thoroughly on the possible effects, immediate and long term of COVID-19 on the physiology as well as mind set of boxers who had contracted and recovered from the disease.

The case of Miguel Berchelt in particular is highly quizzical.

After being regarded as among the best fighters for years; in fact he had been considered many times for the Ring's top ten pound for pound list, just short of a breakthrough fight or two, Berchelt lost his long held WBC super featherweight crown by surprise stoppage to Oscar Valdez whose punching power beyond the featherweight was questionable up to that point.

Note that Berchelt had previously been at wars with the likes of Francisco Vargas, Takeshi Miura and Miguel Roman who many believe were more powerful volume punchers than Valdez. Those wars helped establish Berchelt's reputation as a versatile fighter who could box as well as tough it out with the toughest at 130 lbs. That was validated in his rematch versus Vargas and defense against Jayson Sosa which both ended by stoppages in his favor.

Berchelt was originally set to defend against Valdez
on 14 November 2020 but the fight was postponed as Berchelt tested positive for COVID-19.

The bout was rescheduled for 20 February 2021. It headlined a DAZN broadcast card, which took place at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Paradise, Nevada.

Coming into the fight as a favorite, Berchelt lost by 10th round technical knockout in a fight which was surprisingly dominated from the opening bell by Valdez.

Following his loss to Valdez, Berchelt announced his intentions of moving up to lightweight. A month later, on 7 February, it was revealed that Berchelt would face the one-time WBO interim super featherweight title challenger Jeremiah Nakathila in his divisional debut. The bout headlined an ESPN card on 26 March 2022, thirteen months after his loss to Valdez. Berchelt retired from the fight at the end of the sixth round. He was knocked down with a jab in the second round and badly staggered near the end of the sixth round, after which his corner opted to withdraw their fighter from the contest. Berchelt landed less total punches (80 to 125) and power punches (27 to 78) than Nakathila, and was down 60–53 on all three of the judges' scorecards.

The thing is that Nakathila was virtually toyed around with by Shakur Stevenson in a previous fight and should not have presented that big threat to Berchelt.

In both Valdez and Nakathila fights, especially in the latter, Berchelt did not exhibit the reflexes, the punch resistance, smarts, speed and stamina which were hallmarks of his quality as a boxer/fighter before his unfortunate unscheduled bout with the coronavirus.

In sum, how could an elite or near elite fighter like Berchelt suddenly be dominated and stopped by a move upper like Valdez and thoroughly thrashed by someone like Nakathila in just a space of two years during the pandemic?

Think about it.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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