When Robson Conceicao challenged Oscar Valdez for a 130-pound title in September, he wilted down the stretch in a controversial decision loss.
In his first fight since the first pro defeat of his career, Conceicao fought far more aggressively and dominated en route to a unanimous-decision victory over Xavier Martinez on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The judges scored the bout 98-92, 99-91 and 100-90.
With the impressive performance in the 10-round ESPN main event, Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs), 33, set himself up for another title opportunity at 130 pounds.
“I was able to be dominant this evening because I put in such hard work because I was motivated,” said Conceicao, an Olympic gold medalist from Brazil. “I know I should be the champion. I know I beat Oscar Valdez. He has a fight against Shakur Stevenson, and I think Shakur is going to win. But as a fan and a fighter, I want Oscar to win because he owes me a fight.”
Besides the third round, when Martinez buckled his opponent with a left hook in the closing seconds, Conceicao was in control. He used his long jab to beat Martinez to the punch consistently and befuddled him with his excellent footwork.
Martinez, who was making his Top Rank debut after a long stint with Mayweather Promotions, emerged with a swollen right eye in the first loss of his pro career. The 24-year-old from Sacramento was stepping way up in competition following a career-best win over fringe contender Claudio Marrero.
“I know I didn’t do enough to win; I sat back too much,” said Martinez, a 24-year-old from Sacramento. “I didn’t listen to the game plan fully. It is what it is. I’m not going to be a sore loser. He did his thing tonight. It wasn’t my night. I’m not done. This is just the beginning.”
But Conceicao is a legitimate top-10 boxer in one of boxing’s best weight classes, ranked No. 9 by ESPN (Martinez entered No. 10). And he wants a chance at revenge.
“I learned a lot from that Oscar Valdez loss, and that’s why I was able to dedicate myself,” Conceicao said. “I wasn’t discouraged by what happened that evening. I know who I am, and I knew if I put in the work, I could have this type of performance. But my mind is set on Valdez, and I definitely want that shot.”
Ali’s grandson stays undefeated with TKO win
Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, improved to 4-0 (3 KOs) with a third-round TKO of Jeremiah Yeager on the ESPN+ undercard.
Ali Walsh floored Yeager (1-2-1, 1 KO) with a left hook in Round 3, and his opponent was on unsteady legs when the ref allowed the fight to continue. Ali Walsh unloaded — and even unleashed an Ali Shuffle — before another combination sent Yeager to the ropes and out on his feet for the stoppage at 2 minutes, 39 seconds.
“I think the main thing was staying calm, which I did,” said Ali Walsh, 21. “Another thing was head movement and defense, which I felt like I did improve on. I fought last month, so if I can make those small improvements in such a short amount of time, who’s telling what I can do in my next fight?”