Conlon Wins Pro Debut As McGregor Proclaims He’ll Take Over Boxing
By: Sean Crose
Super bantamweight Michael Conlon had quite a pro debut for himself on Friday night in New York. Entering the ring in grand Irish fashion while being accompanied by MMA star Conor McGregor (who, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN, started screaming at some point during the evening about how he was going to take over boxing), the Belfast native was treated to a hero’s welcome at the Theater in Madison Square Garden. The wildly pro Conlon crowd cheered as if he was battling in his native Ireland rather than on the eastern American seaboard. His opponent? Tim Ibarra, an unknown with a record of 4-4. People weren’t at the Garden to see an epic match. They were there to watch a decorated amateur with a promising future make his first foray into the pro ranks.
Conlon instigated the action with one/two, jab/right hand combinations. Ibarra, however, didn’t offer much in the way of a challenge. Conlon looked sharper in the second and was was clearly determined to impress in his first big league bout. He was somewhat slower than one might expect, and perhaps his timing was a bit off, but the guy was dominating nonetheless. What’s more, Conlon showed as the fight entered the first half of the third round that he could do some damage to the body.
That damage gave way to head shots that Conlon started landing throughout the course of the third with alarming frequency. With just over a minute to go in the round, Benjy Estevez, the referee, stepped in and halted the bout. Ibarra had, simply put, become a punching bag. Conlon jumped on the ropes and spread out his arms as if he had just won a world title…and the crowd ate it up. So, how was this well regarded prospects’ debut? Not bad. Conlon showed he could hit – though it took him a bit of whaling on a man who wasn’t really fighting back to get the job done.
Conlon also showed determination, which is of primary importance. Here was a fighter who clearly wanted to put the world on notice. And as a potential money earner, Conlon certainly did just that. The man is bold, he’s Irish and he’s not without talent. That, as his friend McGregor could tell anyone, is catnip to contemporary American audiences. Still, Conlon certainly didn’t appear to be breathtakingly impressive in a professional fight. It’s a tall order to be breathtakingly impressive, though. Only a rarefied few can reek of greatness their first time out. And besides, time is on Conlon’s side – along with some big name support. Time, however, will also tell if the hype surrounding the man is legitimate.
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