Oscar Valdez was bloodied and hurt but still edged Robson Conceicao to keep hold of his WBC super-featherweight title and his unbeaten record on Friday night.
A “difficult” month during which an “adverse finding” was found in a drug test of Valdez’s almost became more troublesome when Conceicao seriously threatened to take his world title.
But the Mexican-American, fighting in his adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona, dug deep in the second half of the fight to convince the judges.
After two rounds Conceicao, the previously undefeated gold medallist from the 2016 Olympics, had enjoyed the better start and had started marking Valdez’s face.
By the fifth Valdez was significantly bruised and was being overwhelmed by his challenger.
Valdez found his rhythm in the sixth and seventh rounds, with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez screaming encouragement from ringside, when his work-rate enabled him to close the distance and hammer away with body shots.
Conceicao had a point deducted in round nine for hitting behind the head.
A wild final three rounds resulted in Valdez being cut open but doing enough to sway the judges who scored it 117-110, 115-112, 115-112.
Valdez said afterwards: “I’ve been through enough this week, man. It makes the fight complicated when someone is trying to run the whole fight.
“If he wants to run? You can’t win a fight running like that.
“We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring. Let’s do it.”
Herring defends his WBO super-featherweight title against Stevenson on October 24.