A slow month of boxing wrapped up on ESPN from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Robson Conceicao bounced back from his decision loss to Oscar Valdez with a clear and unanimous victory over Xavier Martinez.
Martinez started out well, applying pressure and staggering Conceicao (17-1, 8 KO) with a nice left hook late in the third round.
But Conceicao recovered well, using his excellent conditioning to balance distance with strategic aggression and pile up a lead through the middle rounds. Martinez (17-1, 11 KO) slowed down and couldn’t recapture his early success in taking the fight to Conceicao. Conceicao marked up the face of Martinez as the fight went on, and Martinez was never able to find a solution and put together any sustained offense of his own.
Conceicao looked springy and fresh all the way through to the final bell. Martinez hung in there to put it in the hands of the judges, but never made much of a case for himself in the last half of the fight. Official scores were 99-91, 100-90, and 98-92 for Conceicao.
Martinez is just 24, and came into the fight ranked as a top 15 contender by three of the major sanctioning bodies. He took the defeat in stride, making no excuses and giving credit to the victor. He may have been outmatched by the veteran Conceicao, but never looked overwhelmed, and should have a lot of years left to bounce back and put himself back in the mix at 130 pounds.
Conceicao looked good, and much more assertive than what we saw though much of the Valdez fight. He’s 33 and fought tonight like a man in his twenties. There’s no reason to think he won’t stick around long enough to potentially earn another title shot.
Just two girl dads at the end of the night. pic.twitter.com/rivDzkHVo2— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) January 30, 2022
Giovanni Cabrera UD-8 Rene Tellez Giron
The second fight of the night was as sloppy and unimpressive as a child’s first attempts at using toilet paper. A late matchup after both Rene Tellez Giron and Giovanni Cabrera came in heavy at the weigh-in for other opponents, what we got was labeled by the commentariat in our live coverage as “like a fight from Guadalajara on a sketchy ass card in the middle of the night.”
Things started out plodding and slow, and never really improved from there. Giron (16-2, 10 KO) couldn’t keep the distance closed on Cabrera (19-0, 7 KO), despite occasionally trying to leap across the ring at him. Giron found his greatest success in round 4, the only one he won on my card, but couldn’t keep himself in range to put any real pressure on Cabrera outside of that.
Giron tried to bait Cabrera into a mistake in round 7 by laying up against the ropes, but Cabrera didn’t fall for it. He just stayed at distance, methodically popping Giron as he’d done while banking round after round. The judges had it 77-75 and 78-74 twice in favor of Cabrera, who remains undefeated.
I’m not generally inclined to snark on the efforts of the men and women who put their health and safety at risk in the ring. But this was a tedious show between two guys who blew up the scale. No highlights were made available, presumably because none presented themselves at any point during the eight rounds of the fight.
Tiger Johnson UD-4 Xavier Madrid
In the opener, Tiger Johnson looked the part of a promising prospect with flaws to improve in his second pro fight.
Our Scott Christ said that Johnson (2-0, 1 KO) “clearly does have talent and he may be someone better suited for the pro ranks” after Johnson’s quarterfinals exit in the Tokyo Olympics. That talent was on display in the first round, where Johnson moved fluidly and landed cleanly.
ESPN commentator Tim Bradley pointed out a droopy left hand on defense for Johnson, and Xavier Madrid (3-1, 1 KO) took some advantage in the middle rounds, landing a few solid right hands. But Johnson stepped up to another level in the fourth and final round, working off a very productive jab and landing power shots behind it.
Madrid only took up the sport at age 24 after a college football career and an unsuccessful tryout for the CFL. He represented well for himself in the middle two rounds, but Johnson moves forward undefeated on unanimous 40-36 official scores.