Oscar Valdez, Carl Frampton will return to ring in separate fights on Nov. 30 card
Former featherweight world titleholders Oscar Valdez and Carl Frampton will make their ring returns on the same Nov. 30 card against separate opponents and in a new weight class, Top Rank announced Tuesday.
Valdez, who gave up his featherweight belt earlier this year in order to move up in weight, will make his junior lightweight debut in the 10-round main event against Andres Gutierrez.
Frampton, also a former junior featherweight world titlist, is coming back from a freak hand injury this past summer and will face Tyler McCreary in a 10-round junior lightweight bout, but at a catch weight of 128 pounds -- 2 below the division limit.
They will be the featured fights on the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (10 p.m. ET with preliminary bouts streaming beginning at 6:30 p.m.) at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Victories by Valdez and Frampton could set each man up for something much bigger next year.
"Valdez and Frampton have their hands full against tough opponents. If Valdez and Frampton win, world title opportunities await them in 2020," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said.
Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs), 28, of Mexico, made six featherweight title defenses, but soon after his decision win over Jason Sanchez in June elected to vacate the belt because it was becoming increasingly difficult to make 126 pounds.
"I'm looking forward to Nov. 30, as it's my first fight as a [junior lightweight]," Valdez said. "I know my opponent is tough, but I plan on putting on a show for the fans. This is my third camp with [trainer] Eddy Reynoso, and it's going great. This is an important first step towards another world title, and I plan to make the most of it."
Gutierrez (38-2-1, 25 KOs), 26, of Mexico, has won three fights in a row since a 10th-round technical decision loss to Abner Mares in a featherweight world title bout in October 2017.
"I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity," Gutierrez said. "I hope Valdez is prepared for a war. I'm now training in Las Vegas with the professor, Ismael Salas, and 'Memo' Heredia. Boxing fans, get ready for a true Mexican-style battle."
Frampton (26-2, 15 KOs), 32, of Northern Ireland, will be coming off an 11-month layoff since a competitive decision loss challenging featherweight world titlist Josh Warrington last December.
Frampton will be in his first fight since signing with Top Rank to co-promote him with Frank Warren. He was supposed to have the first bout of the agreement on Aug. 10 in Philadelphia against Emmanuel Dominguez. However, Frampton was forced to drop out the week of the fight due to a freak accident in which a concrete pillar in the fight hotel lobby fell on his left hand and broke a metacarpal bone.
"I'm delighted to be making a comeback after what has been a horrific year in my career," said Frampton, who was the 2016 consensus fighter of the year. "I didn't get the Top Rank deal off to an ideal start, but coming back in Vegas is great for me, especially against a really strong opponent. It needed to be someone who would test me. It's what I want, it's what ESPN wants, what [management company] MTK Global wants and what Top Rank wants, so I'm 100 percent confident it's the right move for me.
"McCreary is a quality opponent, but if I want to be competing against the top guys in the world, which I believe I can, then I need to be beating guys like him and doing it in style."
McCreary (16-0-1, 7 KOs), 26, of Toledo, Ohio, is coming off an eight-round decision win over Jessie Cris Rosales on July 19 and will taking a huge step up in the level of his opposition.
"It's a big step up for me, but I feel that I'm ready for it," McCreary said. "It's an opportunity I couldn't turn down, and I feel that every fight is a risk. This is one where, if anything, I would love to risk my undefeated record against a fighter like Frampton. A win here means a world title shot next."
McCreary said he was in the gym training for a fight on Oct. 26 -- which he has withdrawn from for the Frampton bout -- when trainer Lamar Wright told him he had gotten a call saying that Frampton's team was looking for an opponent for Nov. 30.
"They didn't have anyone, and I said, 'I'll take it,'" McCreary said. "I didn't hesitate."