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Boxer Edwin Valero found dead in jail cell [Updated]

April 19, 2010 |  9:15 am

Valero_400 Boxer Edwin Valero was found dead in his jail cell Monday in Caracas, Venezuela. Police say he hanged himself using his own clothes after being arrested in connection with his wife's slaying.

The 28-year-old former lightweight champion was detained Sunday on suspicion of killing his wife, Jennifer Viera. Prosecutors said Sunday night that they planned to charge Valero in connection with the killing.

Venezuelan Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores told reporters Valero was found by another inmate, who alerted authorities in the police lockup in north-central Carabobo state. Valero was still showing signs of life when he was taken down but died at about 1:30 a.m., Flores said.

Valero had been detained after police found his wife's body in a Valencia hotel room. The boxer allegedly told security officials he had killed Viera after leaving the hotel room around dawn Sunday.

[Updated 10:39 a.m.: Valero's boxing promoter, Bob Arum, said the Venezuelan was positioning himself for a showdown against superstar Manny Pacquiao, perhaps by next year. Valero had informed the World Boxing Council that he no longer would defend his WBC lightweight belt and was planning to next fight at 140 pounds (junior-welterweight).

"He was going to prove himself there and then fight Manny," Arum said. "He was Manny-obsessed.

"He had incredible talent. At first, people said he couldn't box. Well, he proved he could box, and he was a hard-punching guy, a whirling dervish in the ring. He and Pacquiao would've been a hell of a fight. That was the whole idea of him coming to us [two fights ago]: He would get to be known better and become a legitimate challenger to Pacquiao. The guys in my office couldn't wait to see that fight.

"It's a tragedy, a tragic, tragic waste," Arum said.

The veteran promoter said he didn't know Valero (27-0, 27 KOs) well. The boxer last fought in February but was being kept out of the U.S. because of visa problems apparently related to brushes with the law.

"When he was with me, he was polite and courteous, said all the right things," Arum said. "But I had heard from others, including his Japanese promoter, that he was slightly off, that he was an alcoholic and not controllable when he was drinking."

Valero had also had a brain operation after suffering an accident. Arum said "only a neurologist could tell" if that contributed to the boxer's violent behavior.

Arum said, "We shouldn't play the blame game now," insisting that he and others, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, worked to help the fighter. Arum said he was told Chavez assisted in finding counseling for Valero, who had tattooed the Venezuelan flag and Chavez's likeness on his chest.

Arum said he wasn't going to let Valero fight until he went through a rehabilitation session in Venezuela to deal with anger and alcohol abuse issues.

"We wanted him to go through it; he was supposed to be in there 60 days," Arum said. "How he got out after a weekend, I have no idea."

Veteran promoter Dan Goossen said the Valero case "was all senseless. The signs were there he couldn't help himself. The police should've realized he had real problems and worked harder to protect his wife and family. That's who I feel most sorry for in all this -- his wife. These are things that you rely on professionals for, to prevent this from happening."]

-- Chuck Schilken and Lance Pugmire

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Edwin Valero celebrates after beating Antonio DeMarco in February. Credit: Omar Torres / AFP/Getty Images

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