ESPN results: Oscar Valdez and Gilberto Ramirez defend their titles
In what turned out to be a captivating fight, Oscar Valdez earned a unanimous decision over Genesis Servania to successfully defend his WBO featherweight title a third time. The contest was the main event of a Top Rank card televised on ESPN Friday night and held at the Tucson Convention Center, in Tucson, Arizona.
“I let the crowd sometimes get to me,” said Valdez afterward in the post-fight interview with ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. “I want to show the crowd a good fight and I got a little too careless. This is boxing. It is what is.”
Valdez, 23-0 (19), out-boxed Servania in the second half of the fight to secure the win on points but the first half of the contest will be remembered. A mandatory opponent set by the WBO, Servania, 29-1 (12), proved he was a live challenger in the opening round but Valdez’s signature left hook began to show itself in the second. Just when it started to look like he’d pull away late in the fourth, a right hand from Servania sent him to the mat as Valdez was caught with his hands down. It was a flash knockdown but another right seconds later from the Filipino contender rocked him badly and Valdez looked in bad shape, going to his corner afterward.
In the following round, Valdez returned the favor with a left hook to drop Servania for a knockdown. This one hurt Servania badly as he wobbled upon getting up, and Valdez knew it. The Mexican threw combinations with bad intentions throughout the rest of the round and, while he didn’t get to stop his foe, he made a statement to overshadow his early blunder. Servania had a bad round and lost all momentum but, once recovering in the following round, he continued to wait for Valdez to make another mistake. It never really happened, once Valdez started to box from the outside in the eighth and continued to rack up rounds in that same manner through the 11th. He may not have known it but Valdez could’ve done the same in the final round but stood in the pocket with Servania to hand in an entertaining ending to a fun fight overall.
“This is my people. I want to close the fight the way I’m supposed to,” said Valdez in closing when asked why he didn’t just box in that last round. Scores of 116-110, 119-111 and 117-109 got him the unanimous decision nod and, although there was a card or two far too wide for the liking of Servania’s chances going into it, the fight’s entertainment value was far too memorable to have it take over the narrative.
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez successfully defended his WBO super middleweight title a second time after receiving a unanimous decision over Jesse Hart in the ESPN co-feature.
“He was a tough fighter. I respect him because he put on a great show,” said Ramirez after the fight. “I couldn’t finish it because he did good, but I put a great show for all the people.”
Ramirez, 36-0 (24), almost put Hart away in the second round, after landing a left hand that dropped the challenger for the only knockdown of the fight. Hart, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, bent right into the left hand against the ropes and his legs gave out on him immediately. He barely survived the second and stayed in that mode through the third, until getting hurt badly again in the fourth. Ramirez, a southpaw from Sinaloa, Mexico, was banging on all cylinders, thanks to his body work, but Hart moved enough to catch his second wind in the middle rounds.
Hart, 22-1 (18), began to time a counter right uppercut in the sixth round and gave the forward-pressing Mexican something to think about. The shot began to affect Ramirez’s distance and slowly the fight became a back-and-forth brawl, starting in the ninth. Both men were stunned in that round but Ramirez’s stinging body work reared its head in the 10th to secure a much-needed late round. In the championship rounds, both men took the fight into a phone booth. Hart landed a couple of big rights to momentarily stun Ramirez in the 11th and the two traded for much of the final round.
Two scores of 115-112 and one card of 114-113 for Ramirez punctuated the fight in the end and, although those portray a tight fight, Hart wasn’t in denial afterward.
“I think I didn’t do good enough,” said Hart. “The knockdown was the difference in the fight. That’s my fault. I made a mistake. I take nothing away from the champion. I’m able to hang with the best. I went 12 rounds. Everybody was banking on me to get tired. I came in here and stood up for 12 rounds after a knockdown.”
Famed 2016 Irish Olympian Michael Conlan opened the ESPN telecast and made quick work of Kenny Guzman, by forcing a stoppage in the second round. The featherweight contest was scheduled for six.
Conlan, 4-0 (4), landed a right hand to the face of Guzman that quickly dropped him in the waning seconds of the second round. Guzman, 3-1 (1), sprawled his arms out on the fall but quickly got up well enough in time to beat referee Wes Melton’s 10-count. Having eaten plenty of right hands leading up to the only knockdown of the fight, Guzman slightly wobbled backward when on his feet and that’s when Melton waved his arms.