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No hiding place: The Chilling Story of Edwin Valero

An exciting power puncher who descended into unimaginable darkness

This article originally appeared in Steve Wellings’ Substack

Nine rounds had gone by in Monterrey, Mexico and Antonio DeMarco’s trainer had seen more than enough. Withdrawing his man from the bout, saving the challenger from further punishment, DeMarco’s name was added to a growing roster of victims felled by Edwin Valero.

Making the second defence of his WBC 135-pound title, Valero inscribed victory number 27 to his burgeoning record. All 27 had failed to hear the final bell. The 28-year-old Venezuelan was no ordinary champion. Having boxed only 66 rounds in eight years as a pro, his 100 per cent KO ratio was only part of this man’s incredible story.

When DeMarco was finally pulled out on that evening in early February 2010, Valero’s career at the top level was truly ready to launch. At the time, fans and pundits did not know that they would never see this wildly unpredictable two-weight champion in the ring again.

Just two months after Valero had battered DeMarco, he was involved in a manic 48 hours that stunned the boxing world. Jennifer Carolina Viera de Valero, the 24-year-old wife of Edwin and mother of his two young children, was brutally stabbed to death in a hotel in the Venezuelan city of Valencia. 

Hours after the incident had taken place, Valero walked down to the hotel reception to confess to stunned members of staff that he had killed his wife. 

Police were called and he was arrested and taken into custody. Struggling with mental demons and substance abuse problems, Valero had been detained for previously mistreating his wife just weeks before the fatal assault. Twenty-four hours after his confession, the lightweight belt holder would also be dead.

Valero always led a troubled existence, in and out of the ring. Stories of feuds, bizarre anonymous shootings and increasing paranoia followed the heavy-handed southpaw throughout his final years as he descended into a crazed world of drug and alcohol dependency. 

Even his first attempt to turn professional in 2001 was put on hold. Despite closing in on 100 amateur contests, Valero looked to cross codes with a Venezuelan promoter before a motorcycle accident put his best-laid plans on hold for a year.

He later explained to American media that his motorbike had hit another vehicle at high speed and Valero, wearing no helmet, was left with a fractured skull. After finally convincing doctors that he was capable of embarking on a career as a prizefighter, Edwin wasted little time adapting to his new profession by smashing away 18 consecutive opponents in the first round.

Midway through the streak, Valero had piqued the interest of Golden Boy Promotions, owned by former multi-weight world champion Oscar De La Hoya. This link-up earned Valero some valuable time in the States, and prominent journalists like Doug Fischer began to take an interest in his story. 

Valero’s intense sparring sessions, often with well-known names of the time, started emerging from the gyms and are now the stuff of legend.

But as quickly as Valero’s career progressed, problems were always lurking around the corner. In the middle of his knockout run, with a prime slot on HBO secured on a New York show, the South American failed a pre-fight medical based on the injuries he had sustained in his motorcycle accident. 

A doctor from the stringent New York State Athletic Commission suggested that he should never fight again given the underlying extent of the damage.

Despite these dire medical predictions, such is the “Wild West” nature of boxing that Edwin managed to find locations willing to sanction him. Argentina, Japan, Panama, France and Mexico all kept him in business.

The one problem that persisted worldwide was that his handlers were finding it hard to recruit opponents capable of lasting any considerable distance.

One opponent who lasted longer than most was WBA super-featherweight king Vicente Mosquera who dropped Valero before being eventually stopped in the 10th round in his home city. Most importantly, globetrotting Valero had finally become a world champion. 

Four defences followed, three in Japan and one in Mexico, all against substandard opposition, none of whom came close to lasting the 12-round course.

In April 2009, Valero finally found an American state willing to license him. Headlining in Texas, the Merida native dominated Antonio Pitalua in three rounds to take home the vacant WBC crown and cement his name as a two-weight world champion. During this time, Valero hooked up with veteran US promoter Bob Arum on a three-fight deal. 

Arum also promoted Manny Pacquiao and was lining Valero up for a crack at the Filipino superstar. Arum later declared that it would’ve been a tremendous spectacle. Given the prowess of both men, it would be hard to suggest otherwise.

The career trajectories of Valero and Pacquiao could hardly have been more apparent than on May 2, 2009. While Manny Pacquaio was busy destroying Ricky Hatton, on the same night in the same state, Edwin Valero was being busted for drunk driving. 

That incident led to visa issues that prevented Valero from appearing on a Pacquiao undercard later in the year. Around this time, Valero called out both Pacquaio and Hatton, while the UK’s Amir Khan made it known that he would favour a Valero fight. Edwin was becoming a fighter worth talking about.

Meanwhile, Valero’s behaviour outside of the ring descended into chaos. In September 2009, Valero was arrested in Venezuela for allegedly attacking his mother and sister. 

In early 2010 his badly bruised wife, suffering from a collapsed lung, told police that she had fallen down the stairs as Edwin was once again arrested amidst claims of domestic violence. Wherever this troubled individual went, problems were sure to follow.

I fear no one. I like to hit men. It liberates me.

This leads us to April 18, 2010, and the bedraggled figure of Edwin Valero waking from a drug and alcohol-induced haze, confessing to the murder of his wife. Bizarrely, Valero would retract his statement soon after. 

Replacing it with a fantastical tale of kidnap, underworld crime and attempts on his life from criminal elements. He said he had been chased and was hiding out at the hotel on police advice.

To further muddy the waters, Valero’s wife had reportedly been admitted to the hospital a year earlier after being targeted outside the family home by unknown assailants who shot her in the leg before exiting the scene. 

A day after his confession, Valero was found dead in his holding cell. He had used his trousers to hang himself, a photograph of his family clenched between his teeth. 

Conspiracy theories surround the death of Valero. Some say the authorities wanted him dead, that it was not suicide. Others believe that dark underworld forces were indeed pursuing this inherently violent, paranoid man. 

One thing is for sure. Violence and trouble followed the Venezuelan wherever he roamed, and a tragic ending was sadly inevitable. The most prominent three victims are his wife and two children.

The night Edwin Valero defeated Antonio DeMarco, live on US broadcaster Showtime, should’ve been the start of a glorious career at boxing’s highest level. Instead, it was the end of a rollercoaster ride that well and truly fell off the rails. 

Boxing Round-Up

Maxi will need a touch of magic to topple Mexican Zepeda

William Zepeda will look to put a dent in yet another opponent this weekend when Maxi Hughes comes to town. Road warrior Maxi is used to being the underdog, so fighting Zepeda won’t faze him. Winning the fight will be an uphill task. 

Heavy-handed Floyd Schofield, Eric Priest and Tristan Kalkreuth all prop up the solid Golden Boy card in Las Vegas.

Frank Warren parades his Magnificent 7

Meanwhile, Frank Warren runs another ‘Magnificent 7’ card in Birmingham. The evening features some extremely solid domestic fights.

Telford crowd pleaser Liam Davies faces Lee McGregor conqueror Erik Robles. Dublin puncher Pierce O’Leary goes in with Hovhannes Martirosyan. Nathan Heaney defends his British title against Brad Pauls.

Dennis McCann squares off with Brad Strand, Joe Joyce makes a welcome return following his losses to Zhilei Zhang by taking on Kash Ali, and Zach Parker tackles Tyron Zeuge.

Media Credit: The Fight City, DAZN, Frank Warren/TNT.

About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 500 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries:


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years