By Chris Robinson
Bernabe Concepcion can definitely be an unassuming individual. During Manny Pacquiao's recent open media workout at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, the low key Rizal, Philippines fighter went relatively unnoticed, staying away from the spotlight and biding his time in the far corner of the gym as the media flocked in droves to check out Pacquiao.
As Concepcion was talking to his stable mate and good friend Rashad Holloway I approached him and had a few words with him. I had covered Concepcion for a day in training last summer as he prepared for his crack at then WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez and it was good to reconnect with him.
In his fight with Lopez we saw Concepcion get drilled early before turning the tide of the fight with a chilling knockdown late in the first round. Lopez would climb off the canvas and polish off Concepcion in the following round in what was a pretty tough loss to swallow.
Concepcion is now set to return this coming May 6th in Las Vegas inside of the Mandalay Bay on the even of Pacquiao's bout with Shane Mosley. Having fought in Nevada six times prior, Las Vegas is familiar territory to the stout southpaw and he is welcoming his return to the area.
"I'm happy to be back," Concepcion revealed. "I've fought in Las Vegas a lot of times and that's why it's important for me. I haven't had a fight for like eight months and I need to work hard. That's what I think."
When I asked Concepcion about his loss to Lopez and just how close he feels he was to snatching victory, he revealed that the clock simply wasn't on his side on that fateful night in Puerto Rico.
"I think I had him but there was no more time. It was the end of the round. I didn't have any chance to knock him out," said Concepcion.
Interestingly enough, earlier this month Lopez was involved in one of the bigger upsets of recent memory as he was stopped controversially in the eighth round by a hard-pressing Orlando Salido. The defeat derailed any immediate plans that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum had for a Lopez matchup with Yuriorkis Gamboa and Concepcion admits he too was startled by the results.
"Yeah. I was surprised by that," he continued. "But I think Salido caused him a lot of problems in there and he wasn't in good condition. But I know he is going to come back."
Well into his eighth year as a professional and having compiled a 28-4-1 record with 15 knockouts, it is hard to believe that Concepcion is still in his early twenties. Some were quick to write him off after the disastrous loss to Lopez but Concepcion insists that he isn't going anywhere just yet.
"No, I'm still here. I'm only 23 years old. I'm just working, just working hard. Everyday I've been working a lot and my focus for my boxing career is right there."