Mired in controversy, Oscar Valdez outpoints Robson Conceicao to retain 130-pound title

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WBC super featherweight champion Oscar Valdez walked into the AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday embroiled in controversy over his positive test for the medication phentermine

Many in the boxing world believed his scheduled bout versus the undefeated Robson Conceicao wouldn’t — and shouldn’t — take place. But the two-time Mexican Olympian shrugged his shoulders and took care of business after the fight was allowed to go on by the WBC and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Athletic Commission.

Valdez overcame early adversity to win the fight on all three judges' scorecards: 117-110, 115-112 and 115-112. Yahoo Sports scored the bout 115-112 for Valdez.

"It makes the fight complicated when someone is trying to run the whole fight," Valdez told ESPN's Mark Kriegel after the bout. "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."

Conceicao took control early using his four-inch reach advantage to keep Valdez on the outside and unable to land anything of significance. That is, until the third round when Valdez unleashed a monstrous overhand right that landed flush on Conceicao’s head, but the Brazilian only took a second to shake it off and return to repeatedly peppering Valdez's face with his jab.

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the unified super middleweight champion and consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, was ringside to support his stablemate and by the fourth round was screaming at Valdez to up the intensity on Conceicao. In the fifth round and believing he had a lead on the scorecards, Conceicao began showboating by turning away from Valdez and dropping his hands. Valdez responded by continuing to be aggressive into the middle rounds when his Brazilian challenger began to fade.

Robson Conceicao (L) and Oscar Valdez (R) exchange punches during their fight for the WBC super featherweight championship at Casino del Sol on Sept. 10, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Robson Conceicao (L) and Oscar Valdez (R) exchange punches during their fight for the WBC super featherweight championship at Casino del Sol on Sept. 10, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

By the eighth round, Conceicao had seemingly emptied his tank and wasn’t firing back as often as he had in the first half of the fight though he continued pummeling Valdez with his jab. Even ESPN broadcaster Timothy Bradley noted Conceicao was no longer fighting to win, but rather fighting to survive. Then, Conceicao landed a shot behind the head of Valdez and was docked a point by the referee, however, the replay clearly showed Conceicao lightly tapping the back of Valdez’s head while the ref was separating them so the point deduction was hardly justified.

Valdez continued his assault on Conceicao into the championship rounds despite not much output in the 12 round and walked away after the final bell with his gloves in the air. Conceicao also believed he had won and showed obvious dissatisfaction when the scorecards were read. 

Valdez, who won the WBC title with a vicious knockout of Miguel Berchelt in February, is now 30-0 and hopes to get the winner of the Shakur Stevenson-Jamel Herring unification bout in October.

"We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring," Valdez said. "Let's do it."

In the co-feature, previously undefeated Gabriel Flores Jr. couldn’t handle veteran Luis Alberto Lopez’s constant pressure and lost via unanimous decision in their super featherweight matchup. Judges scored the bout 98-92, 100-90 and 100-90. Yahoo Sports also had Lopez winning every round.

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