SUPER-FEATHERWEIGHT Robson Conceição, 17-1 (9), is 33 years old and just shy of 6ft. Those dimensions alone will give Shakur Stevenson, yet to fight anyone as tall, plenty to think about.
The Brazilian is well-schooled, evidenced by two amateur wins over Joe Cordina during a successful vested career that also saw him lose to Josh Taylor. Yet it was his lone loss at professional level, to Oscar Valdez in September last year, that saw him rise to prominence. Valdez infamously failed a drug test in the build-up, but was permitted to fight after subsequent tests were clean. There was widespread criticism of Valdez before the fight and plenty felt Conceição– a busy but economical boxer who uses his dimensions well – deserved better than the unanimous scorecards that went against him.
Watching that contest again, the result seemed fair even if the decision to allow the fight to go ahead was, at best, up for debate. Conceição didn’t do quite enough and those who felt he won were likely influenced by the lingering sense of injustice.
Regardless, Conceição – ranked as the eighth contender to champion Stevenson – acquitted himself well in a difficult situation. He can make life uncomfortable for the southpaw favourite but, like the 5ft 10ins Jamel Herring in October last year, ultimately find out how special Stevenson is. The American, who is mature beyond his years when inside the ring, should be favoured to win this one widely on the cards.