Oscar Valdez took to the microphone and apologized to the more than 4,500 fans to say he was sorry for not giving them a “knockout” performance.
Heck, he gave them the next best thing: a victory, although it took some time to get it as it went all 12 rounds and to the scorecards.
They were: 115-112, 117-110 and 115-112,
Close, but …
Many thought it was too close to call – same here – as Valdez, Southern Arizona’s hometown hero, survived the early rounds of Robson Conceicao to eventually take over the fight.
Conceicao felt he was robbed, but what fighter in a close fight doesn’t ever think that?
When asked if he thought the hometown crowd played a factor in the decision, he said it didn’t matter given he thought he won the fight. The fight could have been anywhere, and he thought he had done enough to win. And, of course, he wants a rematch.
Valdez won despite Conceircao having more power punches, successful jabs and total punches. Granted they came in the early rounds when the two were establishing their fights. But it all changed in the latter rounds, six through 12 when Valdez became a bit more aggressive.
As Valdez put it – you can’t run and expect to win the fight. And that’s what Conceicao did. In the later rounds, he ducked and moved. Ducked and moved. And Valdez pursued.
“It makes a fight complicated when somebody’s trying to run the whole fight. I’m trying to give my fans a good show,” Valdez said. “You can’t win a fight running like that.”
And maybe he did have the benefit of the hometown crowd and some hometown judging but he won the fight.
After a hard week – one where he failed a prefight drug test – he found a way, to get the win. He had no choice but to find a way, moving forward while Conceicao moved side to side and backward.
“I’m sorry for all this ruckus. I’m not a disrespectful man. I’ve been through enough. We won the fight. We did what we had to do and it’s on to the next chapter.”
That could come in the next few months.
But first there was Friday night at AVA Amphitheatre where the sold-out crowd often encouraged to put away. He couldn’t … and didn’t.
It fueled Conceirco to continue to say he won the fight through the lasting moments after the fight, often giving a thumbs down to the ESPN cameras. In a post-fight interview, through an interpreter Conceirco said how could have Valdez have won just look at his face. And yes, it was beat up but as the interview said fighting isn’t about a beauty contest.
“He’s over here yelling in my face,’’ Valdez said in his post-fight interview while still in the ring. “We’re grown men. Don’t be yelling in my face. He might be upset. Of course, you want to be a world champion, but don’t point at me, don’t be yelling in my face. I’ve been through enough this week, man.”
Like being questioned – constantly – about that failed test for traces of Phentermine in his system more than a week ago. It gave some doubt the fight would go on at all, but the Pasqui Yaquis forged on granting the fight.
And so, there it was. A tough fight where Valdez had to come back from an early-rounds onslaught from Conceicao, who threw punches – and plenty of them – to gain the early edge.
Until Valdez slowly took over.
So, what’s next?
“We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring. Let’s do it,” Valdez said in the ring.