Oscar Valdez retains title by outpointing Robson Conceicao

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Oscar Valdez lost some respect when he tested positive for a banned substance going into his title defense against Robson Conceicao on Friday in Tucson, Arizona, where Valdez lives.

He wasn’t about to lose the fight, too.

Valdez, the WBC 130-pound champ, rallied in the second half of the 12-round bout to pull away from the Brazilian challenger and win a unanimous decision.

Conceicao performed well in the first half of the fight. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist, a slick boxer who moves well, consistently beat his Mexican opponent to the punch and outworked him to build a lead on the cards.

Two of the three judges had Conceicao winning after five rounds.

However, the tide started to turn in Round 6, when a stalking Valdez began to land hard, eye-catching punches at a high rate and Conceicao seemed to grow weary and was less active.

Thus, the champion dominated Rounds 6 through 12 to win a decision. The scores were 117-110, 115-112 and 115-112. Conceicao (16-1, 8 KOs) lost a point for hitting behind the head in Round 9.

Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) won his title by stopping Miguel Berchelt in 10 rounds in February.

“I’ve been through a hard week,” said Valdez, who tested positive for the weight-loss medication phentermine but was allowed to fight. “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.”

What is the next chapter? Valdez would like to fight the winner of the Oct. 23 fight between WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson.

“We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring,” he said. “Let’s do it.”

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