As featherweight world titleholder Oscar Valdez was loaded into an ambulance on Saturday night following his epic slugfest with Scott Quigg, he flashed a big smile and gave a thumbs up to his team.
Valdez had suffered a broken jaw in the fifth round and spit blood for much of the rest of the extremely violent fight with Quigg, who walked away with his own issues, including a broken nose, cuts, black eyes and swelling on his forehead that made him look like a Klingon from Star Trek.
But Valdez won by unanimous decision -- 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111 -- at the soggy StubHub Center in Carson, California, where the nonstop rain made it an eerie night with just a few thousand fans willing to brave the elements for the Top Rank ESPN card.
On Monday, Valdez visited oral surgeon Dr. Douglas Galen in Beverly Hills, where he had his jaw wired shut. It will stay that way for the next five or six weeks, Frank Espinoza, Valdez's manager, told ESPN.
Espinoza said Valdez did not require surgery but was put under anesthesia so the doctor could reset his jaw, which had been hanging to the side after the injury, and wire it closed. Valdez was released later Monday from the outpatient procedure and was resting at a rented home in Southern California, Espinoza said.
"Right now, Oscar just needs to rest," Espinoza said. "He has a follow-up appointment on Friday. I'm very proud of Oscar. He showed a lot of grit. He went seven rounds with a broken jaw. He's got a big heart. I've always said he had that warrior spirit and he showed it against Quigg. There's no quit in Oscar. But now it's time for him to relax and get better. I don't even want him to think about boxing."
As for how long Valdez will be out of action, Espinoza said neither he nor Valdez even asked the doctor about it, though it seems to be a good possibility he might not fight for the rest of the year. When Quigg suffered a broken jaw in his a split-decision loss to Carl Frampton in their 2016 junior featherweight world title unification fight, he was out of action for 10 months.
"I think we'll see how he recovers and that [conversation with the doctor] will come later," Espinoza said. "I can't judge when he'll be back, but no time soon. Right now he's just going to follow the doctor's orders. When the doctor gives him the green light, then we'll talk about it. Right now we just want him to rest and we want to thank all the well wishers. They've been flowing in, and Oscar really appreciates them."
Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs), 27, a two-time Olympian from Mexico, retained his title for the fourth time with the kind of gutsy and exciting performance that harkened back to so many fights put on by fan-favorite warriors from his country, such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, Valdez's idol.
It was not lost on Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Valdez's promoter.
"Those memorable nights and memorable performances make fans want to see someone come back right away," duBoef said. "It was a breakthrough night for Oscar, so it's unfortunate that he has an injury that will keep him on the sideline for a bit. We don't know how long he'll be sidelined, but his star power and the awareness of him to fight fans and sports fans dramatically increased as a result of his brave performance on Saturday night."
The fight almost didn't come off because England's Quigg (34-2-2, 25 KOs), 29, came in overweight at Friday's weigh-in. He was 128.8 pounds, well over the 126-pound limit and ineligible to win the title, while Valdez was 125.8. Top Rank and Espinoza wanted Quigg to agree to a Saturday morning weight check at which he couldn't weigh more than 136 pounds, but Quigg refused to go along with it.
At that point, Espinoza said he advised Valdez not to go through with the fight, but Valdez had trained hard for two months and wanted to fight and earn his nearly $500,000 purse that was increased with money from Quigg's purse due to a fine from the California State Athletic Commission, plus additional cash from a side deal between the camps.
"I told Top Rank that I was requesting a second-day weigh-in. My guy sweated and made weight and I wanted Oscar to have a fair playing field," Espinoza said. "I wanted 136 pounds max and Quigg wouldn't do it. Absolutely no. It pissed me off. He didn't make weight, so at least try to oblige us on the second-day weigh-in so he's not so much bigger.
"They didn't show professionalism, Quigg and [trainer] Freddie [Roach]. I went back and told Oscar they wouldn't do it, that they wouldn't agree to the second-day weigh-in. So my advice to Oscar was not to take the fight. But it was Oscar's decision. He took the fight. He wanted the fight -- and he won."