Sunday, July 21, 2024  |


Robson Conceicao wins controversial upset over O’Shaquie Foster for WBC junior lightweight title

Fighters Network

NEWARK, NJ — No one expected it. But somehow it happened. Everyone that filled the Prudential Center on Saturday night was just pleased that the 36-minute tranquilizer was over.

Minutes later, the 8,412 in attendance received more of a jolt from the result than the fight itself, when Brazilian Robson Conceicao, trying for the fourth time to win a world junior lightweight title, pulled off a shocker, winning the WBC belt by controversial split decision over O’Shaquie Foster, despite being outlanded 109-76 in total connects and in 10 of 12 rounds.

However, Conceicao (19-2-1, 5 knockouts) did enough to convince judges Paul Wallace (115-113) and Anthony Lundy (116-112) that he won, overruling judge Ron McNair’s 116-112 scorecard for Foster and what everyone else saw on the undercard of the Shakur Stevenson-Artem Harutyunyan WBC lightweight title fight.

At ringside, The Ring had Foster winning 118-110, giving Conceicao the fourth and 11th rounds.

Foster (22-3, 12 KOs) was understandably stunned.

“I thought it was shutout,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t know, man. I thought it was easy. I thought it was an easy fight. I didn’t get touched except with a headbutt. I don’t know, man.

“I’ll be back. But I want the rematch. They stole this from me. They stole this fight from me. I just wanted to show the world I could bang it out, and if I want to, I don’t have to get touched. I guess it wasn’t good enough for the judges.”

Many at ringside were astonished by the decision, too.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Tim Bradley, the Hall of Fame fighter and BWAA Taub Award winner who was calling the fight for ESPN at ringside. “I am trying to understand it. I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. I don’t understand what those judges were looking at, because I know the criteria for scoring a fight, and it is not just based on pressure. That is all Conceicao did. He did not land anything substantial. Let’s not even talk about the punch stats, he did not land anything at all. The right hands he was throwing and slapping he did were not landing at all. We had rookie judges and I don’t even know who they were, to be honest.”

O’Shaquie Foster seemed to be the more effective puncher, but two of three judges saw Robson Conceicao somehow winning (Photo by Mikey WIlliams/Top Rank)

Conceicao, Brazil’s only Olympic gold medalist, landed double-digit punches in just the fourth and 11th rounds; Foster landed double-digit punches in fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th rounds.

According to CompuBox, Conceicao only landed 10.8% of his punches (76 (27 body shots)/701), while Foster landed 25.1% (109 (20)/435), including 33.7% of his power punches (58 (14)/172). In seven of the 12 rounds, however, the fighters were separated by three or fewer landed punches.

“This is for my daughter,” said Conceicao, who failed three previous times to win a junior lightweight title, losing to Oscar Valdez and Stevenson, and fighting to majority draw against Emanuel Navarrete last year. “I promised this to my daughter, and I was able to fulfill that promise. I’m the champion of the world.

“I do think I won the fight. I landed way more. He didn’t come to fight. He was running and running. I was the winner.”

For much of the fight, the fans’ throats received more work from booing Foster and Conceicao than cheering for the fighters’ output.

It was tedious, unaesthetic, and ask almost anyone at the Prudential Center, extremely difficult to watch.

At the outset, Conceicao came out as the stalker, coming forward. Foster was patient, poking with the jab. Neither fighter did much of anything in the first round, though Foster did connect with a left hook off the jab as the Brazilian was backing up straight.

The second round took the same course as the first. Conceicao played the bull, Foster the wily matador, stepping aside. Conceicao was looking to hit anything he could. Conceicao did step awkwardly in the beginning of the round and returned to his corner with a hitch in his step.

Conceicao opened aggressively in the first 30 seconds of the third. He lunged and tried to find Foster, who countered Conceicao with a right after a miss. In the latter portion of the round, Foster came forward, catching what Conceicao was throwing and picking away with his jab.

As the fourth unfolded, Conceicao kept pecking and throwing at air. He would step forward and try landing something, and Foster would shrewdly step left, step back, or step right and not be there. Though as the fourth wound down, a spattering of boos came from the crowd for the lack of activity.

In a rare moment, it seemed, Robson Conceicao gets the better of O’Shaquie Foster (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank).

The Newark crowd let the fighters hear it again as the bell ended the round.

By the fifth, Foster seemed locked in. He stayed in the pocket and continued to avert everything Conceicao tried. Foster began getting more assertive, stepping forward and countering Conceicao. When Conceicao tried cutting off the ring, Foster rolled out of the traps.

But again, the boos began raining down. Foster ignored the fans’ pleas and kept in the pocket, finding openings, landing where he could. He did land a right uppercut and closed the round with a straight right.

Midway through the sixth, Foster popped Conceicao with a three-punch combination. And for the third-straight round, the crowd voiced their disproval. Foster stayed narrow, flashing an occasional flurry, then he would curl back into his defensive shell.

Foster’s defensive tactics continued in the seventh. If Conceicao could not get to him, why change?

Using a high left shoulder guard, Foster kept Conceicao away and the fans continued to boo.

Through seven, Foster outlanded Conceicao 58-39.

Sensing some urgency, Conceicao picked up his pace at the beginning of the eighth. He tried stabbing the elusive Foster. But when Conceicao neared, Foster quickly gained his respect with a jab or a two-punch combination. In the latter portion of the eighth, fans jeered the lack of action.

When the ninth began, a trickle of blood came from the corner of Foster’s right eye after the fighters clashed heads. Conceicao did pop Foster with a decent amount of body shots, though he could not connect on anything consistent. It seemed Conceicao was trailing considerably as the fight entered the championship rounds.

Until then, Conceicao had landed double figures in only one round, the fourth.

The final rounds were mirrors of the first nine. A weary Conceicao tried to connect, and Foster stepped out of the way and countered.

Apparently, Wallace and Lundy saw something different.

Joseph Santoliquito is a Hall of Fame, award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JSantoliquito