Fight night at TCC Friday lives up to every bit of the hype

After spending much of Saturday going over footage of Friday night’s card at TCC, having communicated with some of the fighters themselves and their trainers, I had a better understanding about the outcomes.

The following is a summary of each fight:

THE MAIN EVENT: Valdez vs Servania

Valdez lands an overhand right on Genesis Servania during his third title defense in Tucson, AZ on Sept 22, 2017. Photo via Top Rank.

My Pick Before Fight Night: (9/21/17)Oscar Valdez in a stoppage. Perhaps in the later rounds, 8-11. It’ll come down to conditioning. Don’t be surprised to see it go to a decision and the fan base on the losing end being hugely disappointed.

What Actually Happened: Oscar Valdez wins by unanimous decison — 116-110, 115-111, 117-109

After the second round, Top Rank personnel and everyone ringside looked at each other dumbfounded. Servania scored a knockdown that Valdez bounced right back up from. From where I sat, he looked embarrassed as referee Wes Melton counted Valdez to eight. Valdez knew he made a mistake and gave Servania a great angle for a straight right to the chin. The boxing world has seen Oscar Valdez fight much better than what he was displaying in front of his home crowd. Nevertheless, Valdez looked like he made a rookie mistake and exposed his entire left side as he tried walking away from an exchange against the ropes the two had just gotten out of. Servania, to his credit, was quick to react and took advantage, knocking Valdez down for the first time in his career. Valdez claims the only other time he was on the canvas earlier in his career was the result of a trip and he acknowledged Servania caught him well.

Moments after successfully defending his WBO featherweight title, Oscar Valdez came to press row and spoke to us. Could Carl Frampton be next?

“Genesis Servania is a tough fighter. I know we were both prepared to go all 12 rounds. I’m not really hurt. I don’t feel that tired. I knew it was going to be a tough fight but it is what it is. I can fairly say this is my first knockdown. When I got dropped by Ruben Tamayo it wasn’t really a drop. I was tripped. But I agree to this one. He caught me fair and square. I accept it. (Servania) got me fair and square. He got me good. It was a little flesh. I wasn’t hurt but I was like, ‘Ok, he got me. Let’s get the job done.'”

On Servania’s chin: “I was hitting him with some good shots. Inside my mind I knew I wasn’t really hurting him but I had to stay focused knowing that I’m going to go all twelve rounds. Do my best to not get drained in there and win round by round.”

After watching the televised footage I could see that Valdez went away from his game plan and simply tried to brawl. Valdez entered the ring last night with a solid game plan and it was effective. Mike Tyson once said that everyone has a game plan until they get hit in the face.

When Valdez drew a huge, monsterous, drawn out roar from the home crowd, I saw it in Valdez’s face, his game plan was out the window and he just wanted blood.

His trainer Manny Robles concurred with me when he said, “He’s gotta listen! (Valdez) lets his emotions get in the way of things and he can make things a lot easier on himself. Fighting at home in front of his home crowd really got to him and he really wanted to put on a show. It’s unfortunate that (Servania) got the knockdown but then (Valdez) went back to the corner and we got him by the ear and said, ‘Hey get back to boxing!’ If you notice, Oscar is an aggressive fighter. He likes to bang. He’s a crowd pleaser. But knockouts are not always going to be there. When he dropped Servania, we tried to get his attention in the corner, but no. He was on a mission to get this guy out and it didn’t happen. Knockout don’t always come when you look for them. You have to let them come to you. There’s a reason Servania was 29-0.”

Robles indicated that matters outside the boxing ring affected his fighter.

“The Dreamer’s situation (the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals — DACA — initiative), the earthquakes in Mexico City. It affected (Oscar). Absolutely. One way or another, it goes through your mind what people back home are dealing with and obviously what Dreamers here face. Fortunately, he made the adjustments he needed to make. Came out with a win. He can box! Against (Miguel) Marriaga, he made the guy miss quite a bit. Side to side. Slipping punches. He has a good defense. Despite what you saw tonight, he has good defense.”

When I asked Robles about Valdez’s defense, I reminded him about comments he made regarding his goal to make Valdez more of a defensive fighter. I asked the world-class trainer what strides Valdez has made since he made those comments about his champion featherweight: “Defense wins championships. He has made the progress. But sometimes he forgets about the lessons he’s been taught. As you saw, Oscar likes to get in there, go toe to toe and bang. You saw it to close the 12th.”

Bob Arum answering questions in press row after Oscar Valdez defeats Genesis Servania.

Servania appeared to have Oscar’s number a few times. Top Rank executives fell silent and had looks of concern on each one of their faces. Valdez looked at times like his title reign was going to come to an end and that another star in Servania was being born.

After watching the footage, it was noticeable that Valdez’s lackluster showing against Servania had more to do with his own lapse in discipline, allowing his emotions to take over and his own inability to follow his corner’s advice in an effort to please the masses that came to support him.

Credit Servania for taking advantage of those circumstances. However, his fundamentals, his timing and bouncing around did nothing to serve him well. The Philippine boxer came to fight and he earned a ton of respect in the process. Still, Valdez dug himself into a hole, and eventually got himself out of, allowing his discipline to waiver, emotions to get the best of him and to be taken out of his element. He did it to himself.

An ugly win is still a win.

Servania said in the locker room after the fight that he accepts the fact that he lost. But that he didn’t agree with how wide the margins were in the scorecards.

Their post-fight faces might tell you how wide the margin was:

Valdez (left) and Servania (right) in their locker rooms after last night’s action.

Again, give Servania all the credit in the world. He proved he belongs in fights at this level.

Bob Arum spoke to us about how much he thought the night was a success and that he would love to bring events back to Tucson. Arum also said he wants Valdez to defend his title in Tucson again and spoke about potential future fights for Valdez.


Ramirez vs Hart

My Pick Before Fight Night: (9/21/17) – I can’t call it. After seeing film on Hart and knowing all that Ramirez can do, it’s still tough for me to make a pick. Don’t be surprised to see a ton of blood, a couple of knock-downs and split decision.

What Actually Happened: Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez won by unanimous decision, 115-112, 115-112, 114-113

WBO Super Middleweight title holder Zurdo Ramirez had his hand lifted to the sound of, “…AND STILL,” being announced by legendary ring announcer Lupe Contreras as he read the judges scores. Those of us sitting in press row did not see the fight as being close at all. I had Zurdo up 9-3 at the end of fight. I gave Hart the first, seventh (maybe) and then the 11th. As the 12th was winding to a close, I was prepared to give him the final round as well until Zurdo closed it with a tremendous flurry that sent Hart stumbling backward against the ropes.

Hart was constantly pummeled by Zurdo’s right. Hart spent the second round through the fifth round circling to left, seemingly to avoid Ramirez’s left (Zurdo means “Lefty” or “Southpaw” in Spanish). What we saw was Zurdo managing to land some pretty devastating blows with his right and score a knockdown with one of them in the second.

Hart was stumbling and wobbling his way through three or four more rounds after he had been knocked down. Zurdo was in control throughout the fight — in control, stalking and walking Hart down for most it. Credit Hart, though. He managed to land huge blows that drew reactions from the 4,013 on hand.

Ramirez (left) landing a left hook against Jesse Hart.
Photo via Top Rank

After seeing footage of Ramirez vs Hart, a few of points of view have changed.

Ramirez scored a clean knockdown. Hart continued to wobble and stumble through the next few rounds as he circled left. Ramirez was connecting with thunderous rights, but the corners of the ring were wet and Hart was slipping each time he was trying to use his footwork to avoid those right hands from Ramirez.

Zurdo still connected with every one of those right hands and Hart failed to throw enough combinations and connect enough. In the eighth round, Hart’s corner could be clearly heard imploring, practically begging their fighter to start taking risks and chances. They seemed to know they were way down at that point.

After watching the televised version, Hart maybe deserved one more round and an 8-4 score instead. Many television personalities gave Hart as many as five rounds, but there’s no way Hart came close to that. The 114-113 score by judge Glen Feldman and scoring the fight a tie (the knockdown being the only difference), to me, seems absurd as well. The two other judges gave Hart five rounds, which appeared to be inaccurate.

Give Hart all the credit in the world. He lived up to his last name and took Gilberto Ramirez the distance. Having survived murderous blows and situations that would have doomed most fighters, Hart stayed standing. Zurdo surprised many with his toughness. He simply imposed his will. Ramirez controlled everything and walked through the very best shots Hart gave. Hart stumbled and even fell after taking Zurdo’s best.

Kenny Guzman vs Michael “Mick” Conlan

My Pick Before Fight Night: (9/21/17) – Conlan KOs Guzman. Perhaps as early as the second round. Look for a lot of heart out of Guzman though. Top Rank could have easily picked a local fighter from Tucson to face Conlan. Instead, they scoured the world and announced Guzman as Conlan’s opponent late in this process. Top Rank must have thought highly enough of Guzman to give him this shot. I think Guzman gets KO’d mostly because he’s taken the fight on pretty short notice and let’s face it, Conlan is simply a generational talent. That’s why the fights have to be fought though. Guzman could shock the world. I doubt it however.

What Actually Happened: Exactly what I wrote would happen. Conlan’s star will be too bright and he might wind up being too big of a name to ever fight in Tucson again — unless, Bob Arum can bring Carl Frampton to Tucson to fight Valdez. I wrote about that possible matchup months ago. But that’s the only way I see Conlan coming back to the Old Pueblo to fight. The man is simply a beast. For where he’s at, this early in his career, he’s shown remarkable polish and world class talent.

MY NOTES FROM RINGSIDE:Pardon any typos or misspelling. I’m just handing it all to you guys exactly how I took them.

The Undercards

Lenny Zappavigna (35-3, 25 KOs) vs Fidel Monterroza (38-13-1, 30 KOs)

After being knocked down once in the 2nd round taking rabbit punch, Monterrosa gets knocked down three times in the third. Refereen Tony Zaino calls a stop to the action (2:48) in the third round. Zappavinga improves to 36-3.

Fazliddin Baibnazarov (2-0, 1 KOs) vs Victor Rosas (9-6, 3 KOs)

Hard hitting scrap. Baibnazarov landing heavy shots throughout. Rosas proving to have an iron chin. Rosas losing his mouth piece multiple times after suffering what looks to be a broken nose. This one should have been over a long time ago. Baibnazarov having his way with Rosas.

Judges scores: Wilson – 80/72 O’Connell – 80/72 Taylor – 80/72

Winner by Decision: Fazliddin Baibnazarov

Mikaela Mayer (1-0, 1 KOs) vs Allison Martinez (1-2, 1 KOs)

Manny Robles in Mayer’s corner. Martinez is knocked down in the first. Martinez knocked down in the 3rd. Martinez corner throws in the towel at the end of the standing 8 count. 39 seconds into the 3rd round. Mayer improves to 2-0.

North American Boxing Federation Title (Vacant)
Egis Kavaliauskas (17-0, 14 KOs) vs Mahonri Montes (32-6-1, 21 KOs)

Kavaliauskas beating Montes badly. Montes still on his feet. Montes gets his right checked before the start of the 7th round by the ring doctors. They allow it to continue. Tony Zaino call a stop to the action 34 second into round 7. Kavaliauskas now the NABF Welterweight Champion. Kavaliauskas after the fight, “This is my first belt. I’ve never won a belt before. It was a hard tough fight. Bring on Jeff Horn.”

Carlos Osorio (13-7-1, 5 KOs) vs Robson Conceicao (4-0, 3 KOs)

Robson Conceicao comes to Tucson as the Gold Medal winner in the 2016 Olympic Games. Conceicao finding opening s immediately on Osorio. There’s nothing Osorio can do. He’s being outclassed from the very first 5 seconds. Osorio survives the first round. Starting the third round, Osorio’s left eye is starting to close. Conceicao is seriously just toying with Osorio and having fun. We go to the 4th. Osorio refuses to come out of his corner to start the 4th. Osorio suffers a dislocated shoulder and can not answer the bell. TKO for Robson Conceicao. He improves to 5-0.

Televised Bouts

Kenny Guzman (3-0, 1 KOs) vs Michael Conlan (3-0, 3 KOs)

After one round Conlan landing big shots but Guzman looks like he belongs in this fight himself having caught the Irishman with a few heavy blows himself. 2nd round, Guzman’s nose is bleeding. Looks like body shots are hurting him. Conlan with a HUGE knockout of Kenney Guzman with a right hook that sends Guzman falling straight back. 2:59 “I felt a bit nervous in the beginning, I don’t know why. I got a bit wreckless in the beginning and then I started to work the body a little bit more. He never hurt me.” “He got me with a great shot. He got me with a great punch. I went down and I thought I beat the count.” Conlan’s next fight is scheduled for Dec 9 at Madison Square Garden.

WBO Supermiddle Weight Championship of the World
Jesse Hart (22-0) vs (Champion) Gilberto Ramirez (35-0)

1st Round) Zurdo’s left eye is starting to swell in the first. Hart keeps circling keeping Zurdo in the middle of the ring. 10-9 Hart
2nd Round) Straight right by Hart lands clean, Zurdo’s head goes back. Three punch combo by Zurdo in the neutral corner. Zurdo lands at will ENORMOUS shots that send Hart down. Hart makes the 8. Straight rights are ROCKING Hart. He wobbles through the rest of the round and survives. Zurdo 10-8
3rd Round) Low blow by Zurdo delays action. No penalty against Zurdo. Hart landing shots of his own. Hart keeps circling to his left and it leaves him open to those big right hands. Zurdo 10-9
4th) Zurdo wails away at Hart in his own corner. Hart spends most of the round just trying to stay on his feet. Zurdo 10-8
5th) More Zurdo in this round. Wobbling Hart. Hart continues to stumble. Never going down. Zurdo 10-9
6th) Not much happening until the last 10 seconds of the round when Ramirez catches Hart against the ropes trying to circle right. Zurdo 10-9
7th) Both fighters trading evenly. Slowing down. Tough to give that round to anyone.
8th) Straight right from Hart lands cleanly. Zurdo is walking through anything Hart throws. Hart landing big punches and nothing is hurting Zurdo. Hart’s corner is IMPLORING him to take chances. Zurdo 10-9
9th) A desparate Hart has actually hurt Zurdo. A left to the body from Zurdo makes Hart grab his side. 4013 fans on their feet. Both fighters are looking to hurt each other now. Too close to call. Give it to Zurdo 10-9
10) This fight is an amazing slugfest. Zurdo is just getting the better of Hart. Hart is landing hard shots! But for every one he lands Zurdo lands 3. Zurdo is walking through anything Hart lands.
11) Hart is the more active in that round. I’ll give him the round on plain activity. Zurdo seems hurt for some reason. Hart 10-9
12) Both fighters are desperate for a KO. Going at it like savages. Zurdo continues to battle through whatever is hurting him. ZURDO ENDS the fight with an huge flury. Zurdo 10-9

115-112, 115-112, 114-113 Zurdo wins. HART: Take nothing away from him. He’s the champ. He’s a good champ. Has my respect. That knockdown was my fault Zurdo is a good fighter.

Decision goes to Zurdo. Give Jesse Hart all the credit in the world.

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