Robson Conceicao vs Xavier Martinez Top Rank via Getty Photos
On Saturday night, January 29, it was Top Rank Boxing on ESPN, and ESPN +, live from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa in Oklahoma.
In the main event, it was a 130-pound, 10-round title eliminator between Robson Conceicao and Xavier Martinez, with the winner probably looking at a world title shot.
Former amateur star Conceicao (16-1, 8 KO’s) who captured gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, lost a very close fight to Oscar Valdez in his last outing and is looking to slot himself into title contention again.
Martinez (17-0, 11 KO’s) was looking to end Conceicao’s title hopes and slot himself in line for his first world title shot.
When the final bell rang at the end of round 12, it was very clear who had been the better man in the night’s main event. Robson Conceicao (17-1, 8 KO’s) handled previously unbeaten Xavier Martinez (17-1, 11 KO’s) for most of the bout. He picked up a dominant decision by scores of 99-91, 100-90, and 98-92. After the fight, all Conceicao wanted to talk about was a rematch with champion Oscar Valdez. Conceicao lost a close, somewhat disputed, decision to the unbeaten Valdez in his last bout and it is clear he wants another crack at him. While Conceicao has done his part, he must hope that Valdez gets past highly skilled Shakur Stevenson in his next bout – not an easy task. If Valdez can pull off the win, look for Conceicao / Valdez 2 later this year.
While Martinez was never hurt in the bout, he never seemed to get on track and hold a position of dominance at any time in the fight. While his corner implored him to pick up the pace and get going as the fight proceeded, Martinez simply did not have that second gear on this night. Meanwhile, Conceicao fought like a man who was not going to let this opportunity slip away. From the opening bell, until the last second of the fight, he simply outworked his younger opponent. He stepped on the gas at opening bell and did not let up. He fought like a man driven to earn another title shot – and he more than likely did.
In a post-fight interview, Conceicao made it clear that while he was thrilled with the win, he now clearly has his sights set on a Valdez rematch.
“I learned a lot from that Oscar Valdez loss, and that’s why I was able to dedicate myself,” Conceição said. “I was not 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. To be honest, I think Xavier Martinez punches harder than Oscar Valdez. I felt his punches, but I know this is the type of fight I needed to prepare myself because I’m a world champion level fighter. And I definitely want Oscar Valdez. “
While Martinez did not get the win, he should be applauded for taking such a tough fight and risking his unblemished record, (frankly, something many fighters might not do). He also did not seem too discouraged, took his first loss with class, and will indeed be back.
“I thought it was closer,” said Martinez. “I know I did not do enough to win. I sat back too much. I did not listen to the game plan fully. It’s what it is. I’m not going to be a sore loser. He did his thing tonight. It was not my night. I’m not done. This is just the beginning. “
Main Event Under Card
Junior welterweight Giovanni Cabrera (19-0, 7 KO’s), a crafty, awkward southpaw fighting out of the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, under the direction of Freddie Roach, with Marvin Somodio, took an 8-round decision over rugged, aggressive , Rene Tellez Giron (16-2, 10 KOs). Cabrera showed good movement and an excellent defense in his first bout since being sidelined for the last couple of years. Cabrera, who seemed happy with his performance, will be anxious to stay busy and is a fighter to keep an eye on. Look for manager Steven Feder to keep his undefeated prospect as busy as he can this year.
Welterweight Tiger Johnson (2-0, 1 KO) UD 4 Xavier Madrid (3-1, 1 KO).
Heavyweight Stephan “Big Shot” Shaw (16-0, 12 KOs) TKO 8 Joey “Tank” Dawejko (21-10-4, 12 KOs)
(Female) junior lightweight Carla Torres (7-6, 0 KOs) W 8 Pink Tyson (11-3, 2 KOs)
Featherweight Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (2-0, 1 KO) KO 2 over Steven Brown (1-1, 1 KO).
Heavyweight Jeremiah Milton (4-0, 4 KOs) KO 1 Dell Long (7-10-2, 4 KOs)
Middleweight Nico Ali Walsh (4-0, 3 KOs), TKO 3 Jeremiah Yeager (1-2-1, 1 KO)
Featherweight Haven Brady Jr. (5-0, 3 KOs) UD 6 Diuhl Olguin (15-21-5, 10 KOs)
Light heavyweight Dante “Free Smoke” Benjamin KO 1 Emany Rendon (2-1, 0 KOs).