Oscar Valdez defends title but feels the heat in Tucson
SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 10, 2021 – Oscar Valdez felt the support of 4,545 adopted hometown fans in Tucson, Arizona, and it helped take some of the weight off his shoulders coming into his first WBC World Super Featherweight title defense Friday.
Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) delivered the win, but it wasn’t the flashy show he hoped for against Robson Conceicao of Brazil (16-1, 8 KOs). Scores in the unanimous decision for Valdez were 117-110 and 115-112. Conceicao had a point deducted for hitting behind the head.
“I want to thank everybody out here in Tucson, Arizona,” said Valdez after the fight. “I’m sorry I didn’t give you a knockout, but it’s hard to hit someone who’s running the whole time.”
Valdez’s face showed the effects of Conceicao’s strong jab. The Brazilian executed his game plan in the early rounds to box from the outside. This is frustrating to Valdez, who likes to stand and trade.
But he lost steam as Valdez adjusted and began finding a home for his power punches. As the momentum shifted, Valdez forced Conceicao to make the call whether he would stand and battle or use the ring and avoid the dangerous Valdez. He chose the latter, showboating, and the fans booed him for it. Because he couldn’t maintain his early effort throughout the fight, Valdez fought his way back for the victory.
Valdez: ‘I’ve been through a rough week’
Starting with the accusations of using a banned substance a week before the fight, all the way through a difficult content, the first title defense didn’t go according to the scripts for Valdez.
“I’ve been through a hard week,” said Valdez.” He said Conceicao disrespected him after his loss. “I’ve been through enough. We won the fight. We did what we had to do. He’s over here yelling in my face. Don’t point at me, don’t yell in my face. It makes the fight complicated when someone’s trying to run the whole fight. I’m trying to give the fans what they want,” explained Valdez.
Conceicao was unapologetic. “This is boxing. I cannot go with his game. I play my game. Look at his face. Oscar is all (effed) up. In my mind, I won the fight. The world witnessed my win.”
Now Valdez must continue the battle to restore his reputation after testing positive for the drug phentermine as he awaits the winner of the Herring vs. Stevenson fight for Herring’s WBO title, hopefully early in 2022.
Luis Alberto Lopez deals first loss to Gabriel Flores
Prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. of Stockton, California (20-1, 7 KOs) expected to have little trouble remaining undefeated against Luis Alberto Lopez of Mexicali, Mexico (23-2, 13 KOs). Flores Jr. talked all week about putting Lopez on his highlight reel. The tables were turned as Lopez gave the performance of his career and a highlight reel showcase of his own in a ten-round domination of Flores. Scores were 100-90 X 2 and 98-92.
Father/trainer Gabe Sr. should have stopped the fight long before the final bell. The rounds weren’t close, and a brave Flores Jr. was taking too much damage. Only near the end of the final round did Flores Sr. finally asked the fight to be stopped, but the referee didn’t see him, and the end was only seconds away. Later, Flores Jr said of Lopez, “He (effing) embarrassed me.” Now Flores Jr. will need to regroup and figure out what happened.
Nakatani retains title in bloody fight with Acosta
WBO Flyweight Champion Junto Nakatani of Japan (22-0, 17 KOs) retained his title in a bloody battle with a game but damaged Angel Acosta of Puerto Rico (22-3, 21 KOs). Nakatani broke Acosta’s nose in the first round. Acosta continued as blood streamed down his face. Thirty-two seconds into the fourth round, ringside physician Alberto Renteria advised referee Rocky Burke to stop the fight due to excessive bleeding from the damage. Acosta wanted to continue, but trainer Joel Diaz didn’t protest the call outdoors in Tucson with his 112-pound fighter at risk of dehydration.
For the nine minutes fans got to see Nakatani. His speed and power were everything they were promised to be.
“I caught him the first round right in the nose,” said Nakatani. “I was able to use my pace to fight him.” Nakatani said he knew for sure he’d broken Acosta’s nose when the referee Rocky Burke first called for a time out and asked the ringside physician to take a look. “Yeah, I knew. Everybody here was excited. I thought it was a good win, at least I thought it was.”
For Acosta, it was a disappointing outcome largely outside his control once the damage was done. He will need time to heal from the nose, as well as losing his first fight without his father-in-law and trainer Juan Muciño in his corner since his death earlier this summer. The recovery will give Acosta more time to work with his new trainer Diaz and return with their relationship strengthened. He at least learned Diaz has his wellbeing uppermost in mind, not a bad lesson from a loss.
Xander Zayas passes another test against Jose Luis Sanchez
Flashy 19-year-old prospect Xander Zayas of Puerto Rico (10-0, 7 KOs) put on a fine display of power and punch selection against tough opponent Jose Luis Sanchez of Albuquerque (11-2-1, 4 KOs). He won by unanimous decision with scores of 60 – 53 X 2 and 60 – 54. Zayas delivers wicked body punches, which set up his crowd-pleasing headshots. But Sanchez can take a punch, and he landed enough of his own to keep Zayas honest. A left hook dropped Sanchez, but the referee ruled it a slip. Two of the judges overruled the referee and properly scored the knockdown. Zayas has marvelous offensive skills. Now is the time to work on his defense, or he’ll get caught as his level of opposition improves.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow Gayle on Boxing Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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