The World Boxing Council featherweight title is up for grabs as undefeated Oscar Valdez fights Robson Conceicao on Friday night in Arizona.
Valdez is the overwhelming favorite to retain his title with boxing betting lines. The -2000 favorite is fighting an unbeaten fighter, so it’s not a walk in the park for the Mexican.
The 12-round fight is an important divisional bout, especially for the future of Valdez.
How Good is Conceicao?
Undefeated records are nothing new in boxing, so it can be tough for bettors to interpret how good a fighter is.
Brazil’s Robson Conceicao is 16-0 with eight knockouts, so he has done enough to earn himself a title fight. The 32-year-old has climbed the featherweight rankings steadily, but is still ranked 46th in the division.
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) September 9, 2021
Unlike the UFC, boxers don’t always fight the top contender. Conceicao doesn’t necessarily deserve a title shot, compared to other fighters, but he should be easy pickings for the title holder.
He has had only three two-star fights, and all three were won by unanimous decision. His inability to knock out easier boxers is a problem, so moving up to fight Oscar Valdez could pose some problems.
Boxing odds have Conceicao at +850 to pull off an upset.
Controversy Surrounds Valdez
No one questions the ability of Oscar Valdez, but his light punishment for taking stimulants has left rival boxers with a sour taste in their mouths.
Valdez tested positive for phentermine, a stimulant banned by the Anti-Doping Association. He barely got reprimanded for the incident, which sparked outrage from WBO junior lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson.
“I feel like that’s unfair,” Stevenson told DAZN. “I feel like if that was anybody else or specifically me, a black fighter, I feel like we would have been suspended. It would have been some type of punishment.
“I don’t know why Oscar Valdez should (only) get a slap on the wrist.”
Chew on this: David Benavidez tested positive for cocaine, a recreational drug, and was stripped of his title by the WBC. He wasn’t even training for a fight. Yet Oscar Valdez tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug while training and is allowed to fight. Got that?
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) September 3, 2021
Valdez responded to criticism with a message all too common with positive-tested fighters.
“I have never used banned substances to enhance my performance,” Valdez said in his statement. “I have never done it. I have been respectful of the anti-doping rules since I was an amateur, Olympian and now professional.”
Regardless of his drug use, Valdez is a quality fighter and that’s reflected by the sportsbook odds. Bookmakers aren’t giving him much chance of losing at -2000, which is only likely to move in one direction.
Valdez Hunting for KO Victory
Beating Conceicao won’t be enough to please Valdez on Friday. The 30-year-old owns 23 knockout wins from 29 fights, so he’s used to winning before the final bell.
His most recent fight was a knockout win over Miguel Berchelt in February. It was an outstanding KO victory over a quality fighter, so he’s not shy of producing world-class performances.
It was his third consecutive finish after beating Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez by TKO. He has had some close fights against the likes of Jason Sanchez and Scott Quigg, but they were decided by unanimous decision.
He has yet to win by split decision, so he’s a dominant fighter deserving of the betting online price.
The positive test has threatened to derail his career. He wants to be seen as a great champion, but that persona will forever be tainted.
“I’ve always wanted to be considered a warrior. I’ve said that before in multiple interviews and seeing my idols when I was a kid, like I said before, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. You know, they never cheated. Why would I cheat? I was close to getting up there,” Valdez told ESPN.
Gym partner Canelo Alvarez was able to gain the trust of the public following his positive drug test. Therefore, Valdez still has a chance to shine.