The 130-pound title picture will crystallize Saturday evening at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, as the unbeaten Xavier Martinez (17-0, 11 KOs) battles recent world title challenger Robson Conceição (16-1, 8 KOs) in a 10-round WBC title eliminator.
(Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)
Conceição is coming off last September’s bold challenge of WBC world champion Oscar Valdez in Tucson, Arizona. Valdez rallied late to edge the unanimous decision. Martinez ground out decisions over veterans Claudio Marrero and Juan Carlos Burgos in his last two outings, ample preparation for his Top Rank debut.
In the 10-round junior lightweight co-feature, Mexican knockout artist Rene Tellez Giron will battle rising Puerto Rican star Luis Melendez. Conceição-Martinez and Melendez-Giron will be televised live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
The undercard — streaming live on ESPN+ starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT — includes Tulsa-born heavyweight Jeremiah Milton (3-0, 3 KOs) and middleweight Nico Ali Walsh (3-0, 2 KOs) in four-rounders.
At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the main event fighters had to say.
“What happened against Valdez was just a small setback. What I learned from that fight is that it was a great fight, but the fans know I won the fight. They know I’m the man.”
“I’m very motivated. After the fight with Valdez, I walked out of the ring very happy with my performance. I went straight to the gym. I had a very good training camp, and now I’m facing a very tough opponent. That makes me even happier. I hope he is ready for a great fight. I’m ready! I always overcome all obstacles. Martinez is a very tough fighter. We will be battling for our lives inside the ring. I trained very hard to come out with a big victory.”
“For me, every fight is a world title fight. I’ve been away from my family and sacrificing for over a year. I’m very close to my goal, and I will not rest until I accomplish my goal.”
“Now I’m really motivated. I just had my little girl. I have to fight for my little girl. She is my motivation. Makes me even hungrier, and that makes me train even harder.”
“Those last two fights were very tough and got me ready for this moment right here. I’ve been putting the work in, and I can’t let this opportunity slip by me.”
“I’m not overlooking Conceição. He is a great opponent. He is the main objective right now, but after this, I want a title shot. If it’s not right after, I want to keep active and maybe fight for a title next year.”
SATURDAY, January 29, 2022
ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
- Robson Conceição vs. Xavier Martinez, ten rounds, WBC super featherweight title eliminator
- Luis Melendez vs. Rene Tellez Giron, ten rounds, junior lightweight
ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT
- Stephan Shaw vs. Joey Dawejko, eight rounds, heavyweight
- Tiger Johnson vs. Xavier Madrid, four rounds, welterweight
- Pink Tyson vs. Carla Torres, eight rounds, junior lightweight
- Bruce Carrington vs. Steven Brown, four rounds, featherweight
- Jeremiah Milton vs. Dell Long, four rounds, heavyweight
- Dante Benjamin Jr. vs. Herman Rendon, four rounds, light heavyweight
- Haven Brady Jr. vs. Diuhl Olguin, six rounds, featherweight
- Nico Ali Walsh vs. Jeremiah Yeager, four rounds, middleweight
- Giovanni Cabrera vs. Rafael Reyes, eight rounds, lightweight