By James Blears
A successful first defence of his World Boxing Council super-featherweight title with a UD for Oscar Valdez in front of cheering fans in the Casa Del Sol AVA Amphitheatre Tuscon, defeating lanky Brazilian Robson Conceicao, in a fight made all the more difficult, due to the height and reach advantages of the challenger.
Oscar aged thirty, stands five feet five and a half inches tall with a sixty-six-inch reach, while Robson, who`s two years older, is five feet ten, with a wingspan of seventy inches, which he used to good effect in the first half of the fight.
Oscar spent part of his childhood in Tuscon and the crowd cheered him on throughout with chants of: “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.” Way back in 2009, Robson defeated Oscar in the amateurs, by a single point in the Pan American Games, and in 2016, he won Brazil`s first ever Gold in the Rio Olympics. So, Oscar was itching to set the record straight.
Robson was jigging and jiving during his ring entrance, brimming with confidence. A hooded Oscar got a huge cheer from the fans, when he walked calmly to the ring, moments later.
Oscar started round one throwing a snappy left jab through Robson`s guard. It got the Brazilian`s attention and he snaked out long left jabs, only to be caught with a crunching left to the body. Robson was keeping him at bay, but then Oscar landed a lunging right to the head just before the bell.
Robson was considerably more aggressive in the second using his left jab and landing some long rights to the head of Oscar, who was trying to cut the distance. Oscar regained the momentum in round three. He landed a big left hook to the head and then followed up with a huge right which hurt Robson, who then tried to keep it at distance. Both went to war in the fourth. Oscar was caught with a counter left coming in and some hard rights. At this stage, Robson was effective using his long-left lead to keep Oscar at arm`s length.
In the fifth Oscar was more successful in getting in close and landed a big left to Robson`s wiry body. He was also starting to put together hard combinations. Robson was feeling them and initiated a touch of clowning, by walking away and then turning back to fight.
At the half way point, both were opening up. Robson paved the way for long rights with accurate lefts jabs. Oscar then caught him with a hard left hook to the head, followed by a slamming left right combination which visibly hurt the Brazilian, who retaliated with a peach of a right uppercut. But another big right stung Robson just before the bell. By this stage, Oscar`s face was reddened, grazed and there was a small cut on his left cheek.
In the seventh Oscar was even more purposeful. Caught by a long straight right from Robson, he fought back with two hard left hooks to the face. It seemed to take the zip out of Robson, who was moving away and retreating. More evading in the eighth, and Oscar was landing right hooks to the head. Robson again nonchalantly walked away. He was also dangerously lowering his hands. For his pains he was cuffed with a right to the body and then to the head. Robson gave Oscar a friendly pat on the back, after the bell clanged.
Robson was pumping out straight jabs in the ninth while Oscar was winging in hooks galore. Oscar landed a sinking right to the body. Then a clinch, in which Robson was repeatedly and annoyingly tapping, rather than punching Oscar to the back of the head. There`s a zero tolerance to rabbit punching and Referee Tony Zaino immediatly paused the action and deducted a point from Robson, verbally chastising and chastening him. When the action resumed, Oscar caught him with a tremendous right hook to the side of the face. By this stage the power venom was mostly coming from Oscar.
In the tenth Robson landed a long left and moments later ate a big straight right. Then a right left from Oscar which backed Robson on to the ropes from where Robson wisely departed asap. Another hard landing right from Oscar and Robson`s pipestem arms were low slung.
As the bell rang to start the eleventh, Robson raised his left arm, prematurely hailing victory. Oscar was getting countered coming in but he was landing left hooks to the head, and again Robson ambled away.
They ever so briefly touched gloves in the twelfth and final round. The posture of the two was interesting. While Robson tried to again use his left jab, Oscar, with every ounce of effort, was throwing hooks some of which were landing to body. Robson, who was repeatedly raising his arms, claiming victory… was mostly in retreat.
The score cards read: 117-110, 115-112, 115-112, and Oscar pulled on a stylish black WBC T shirt. Oscar`s record is now 30-0, 23 KO`s. While Robson is no longer undefeated with 16-1, 8 KO`s. Robson fought a good and competitive fight. Obviously personally disappointed, his face-to-face jeering of Oscar, after the fight had finished, left a discordant and sour note.
Oscar`s determination in the second half of fight, was the decisive factor plus the harder impactful power of his punches as the bout wore on. However, his battered face, told the tale that this had been an exacting, and gruelling fight. Easy, it wasn`t!