By Boxing Bob Newman at ringside
Hometown boy Oscar Valdez, carried the hopes of Tucson on his back in his first defense of the WBC super featherweight title against old amateur foe Robson Conceição of Bahia, Brazil on Friday night before 4,545 at the AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona. This was a rematch 12 years in the making, as Conceição had bested Valdez during the 2009 PanAm games. This was also a battle of highly skilled multi Olympians as Valdez represented Mexico twice while Conceição went for the gold thrice, finally pulling off the trick in his homeland during the 2016 Rio Olympic games.
It was definitely a Mutt & Jeff affair as Conceição, at 5’10” towered over the 5’5.5″ Valdez.
Conceição appeared confident and relaxed as he moved forward behind his jab, Valdez for his part trying to defend and mount an offense against his towering, crafty foe. Valdez began the third nicely as he buried a wicked left hook the body following up to the head of Conceição, bringing the crowd to its feet. But Conceição regained his composure and boxed neatly for the remainder of the round. Valdez was able to mount a brief, fleeting body attack in the fourth, but it seemed minimal against Conceição’s ring generalship, jabbing and moving.
In fact, in the fifth, Conceição used an old Jersey Joe Walcott move, The Walk Away, then saluted the crowd who jeered his every move.
The leather flew more freely in the sixth as Conceição opted to exchange with Valdez- neither man gaining or suffering much in the process, but the crowd loved it. To be honest, they reacted affirmatively at any possible contact Valdez’ gloves may have made with Conceição.
It was a case of Valdez’ solid, less voluminous power punches against Conceição’s crafty, points-building boxing… and which the judges would favor.
In the pivotal ninth, Conceição had a point deducted for hitting behind the head during a clinch. replays showed the punches were mere taps. Valdez appeared to commit the same foul, but only garnered a warning from the ref in the tenth. More of the same in the eleventh as the ref gave Valdez another warning for holding and hitting, much to the dismay of the partisan crowd. Valdez chased in desperation throughout the twelfth, with Conceição mugging to the crowd, and looking the part of the winner. At the bell, both camps lifted their fighters aloft in hopes of victory.
The final scores were as follows: Stephen Blea 117-110, Omar Mintun and Chris Tellez both saw it 115-112, all for Oscar Valdez. Perhaps a rematch is in order. Valdez is now 30-0, 23 KOs, while Conceição loses his first at 16-1, 8 KOs.
“I’ve been through a hard week,” said Valdez. “I’m sorry for all this ruckus. I’m not a disrespectful man. I’ve been through enough. We won the fight. We did what we had to do and it’s on to the next chapter.
“He’s over here yelling in my face. We’re grown men. Don’t be yelling in my face. He might be upset. Of course, you want to be a world champion, but don’t point at me, don’t be yelling in my face. I’ve been through enough this week, man.
“It makes the fight complicated when someone is trying to run the whole fight. I’m trying to put on a good show for my fans, give the fans what they want, which is a good fight. If he wants to run… you can’t win a fight running like that.
“We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring. Let’s do it.”
Promoter Bob Arum added, “If the fighters want the fight, I have no problem putting Oscar in with the winner of Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson.”