By: Sean Crose
Featherweight Michael Conlan has erased all questions regarding whether or not he’d ever return to form after being knocked out earlier this year in a title fight with Leigh Wood. For on Saturday, the 17-1 Irishman impressed a live Belfast audience by simply outboxing – and even dropping – the 30-6 Miguel Marriaga in a ten rounder.
“I had to get rid of a lot of demons tonight,” Conlan stated afterward, “even in the fuckin’ last round, you know, he hit me with a shot — that guy can punch. He has 10 more knockouts than I have fights. He hit me with a jab in the first round and it was, like, ‘Oh, this guy actually can bang.’” It may not have been an easy win for the popular fighter, but Saturday’s bout nonetheless proved to be a successful return.
Yet Marriaga showed Conlan he still meant business in the tenth and final round by ringing Conlan’s bell. “For me,” said Conlan, who Wood had knocked out in the final round of their thriller some months back, “to kinda come through that and it’s the last round, I got knocked out in my last fight in the last round, I think that says a lot. I’m back, baby. I’m ready for any of them.”
As for who Conlan wants to fight next, the answer is clear. “Obviously, I want Leigh Wood,” he said. “If not, it’s anybody else, any other champion. I will be world champion. I know I will.” Earning a unanimous decision win after dropping Marriaga three times appeared to have given the former Olympian the jolt he needed. “Whoever I face,” Conlan said of the future, “I know I’ll beat.”
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