Michael Conlan Wins in Belfast
By: Oliver McManus
MICHAEL CONLAN made a sensational homecoming at the SSE Arena in Belfast last night as he boxed in his home country for the first time in some eight years – Adeilson dos Santos was the chosen opponent and Conlan was aware that even as the overwhelming favourite, he still had everything to prove.
Dos Santos, presumably, viewed this as his opportunity for a route straight back to the world title scene – having contended for Jessie Magdaleno’s Super Bantamweight crown last year – and came out with a high-tempo, something that Conlan predicted pre-fight.
A raucous atmosphere cheered on their homecoming hero and dos Santos started the bout rather oddly, crouching a couple of times in the middle of the ring, before setting about his fight rhythm in the centre of the ring but Conlan remained calm. After all, this was expected.
Conlan was scamperous with his footwork, bouncing from foot to foot and keeping his staunch guard. Firing in a few jabs in order to test the range, Conlan managed to evade the guard of dos Santos on a couple of occasions.
Switching stances periodically it was clear that Conlan was going to be the silkier of fighters and with the Belfast-icon finding his comfort zone early on it began to look like a long night for his Brazilian opponent. A leaning, leading, right hand set up the left hand to the body from Conlan and whilst the occasional big left hand managed to miss the target, the busy work was being done to perfection and keeping Adeilson at bay.
Patience was the name of the game as Conlan returned to southpaw for the third round and dos Santos looked to get on the front foot, seeking out pockets of activity in which to launch an attack but Mick Conlan’s superior movement saw him evade near-all of dos Santos’ shots.
The Brazilian began to get frustrated as Conlan’s fight-intelligence came to the fore with the constant stance-switching and ramrod jab causing real problems for the former world title challenger. At one point you thought dos Santos may start to have success against the ropes with a series of shots but, before you knew it, Conlan had slipped off the ropes and launched an attack of his own.
A display of technical brilliance as opposed to any ego-boosting needless aggression, Conlan was making dos Santos pay whilst remaining in first gear. Body feints from Conlan were all that was needed to throw his counterpart off the scent and the shoulder shimmy started to become a work of art, frustrating dos Santos whilst creating the opportunity for a 1,2,3 of Conlan’s very own.
An accidental cut to the head of Conlan made no difference as the relaxed Irishman simply upped the levels of frustration being felt by dos Santos, firmly in control, picking apart the Brazilian with ease without the need for reckless punches.
Conlan started to develop a neat counter punch which he landed with considerable success as we went into the second half of this, scheduled, eight rounder but the sixth round produced some real success for Adeilson dos Santos who used his reach advantage well to control portions from distance before slipping in up close and landing shots to the inside of the Irishman.
Success but nothing game-changing and, certainly, nothing that Michael couldn’t handle.
A tough cookie that refused to crumble, dos Santos was probably the ideal opponent for Conlan in that whilst there was no major threat to Conlan’s unbeaten record, he probably learnt a hell of a lot more in this fight than in all of his previous bouts put together. Conlan had to think but he didn’t have to test himself, this was a display of technical precision from a relaxed fighter who, without doubt, looks the real deal.
Bring on 2019.
On the undercard featured the most bitter of rivalries between Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty, a contest for the Carroll’s IBF Inter-Continental Super Featherweight belt, and the tempestuous duo opened up with a tantalizing pace, Carroll the busier of the fighters but Geraghty causing the damage, cutting Carroll above the right eye and, indeed, on the bridge of the nose.
Into the second round of the bout we went with both men taking to the centre of the ring, landing at a furious pace, Geraghty appeared to be having the better of the exchanges, leaping from distance into the body of Carroll in order to earn the plaudits of the crowds. As the round continued, however, Carroll worked into his natural game, bringing the aggression and refusing to lie down and have his belly tickled.
Carroll began to prove why his record is an unbeaten one with an incredible pace tempo and, already, after a mere two rounds, Geraghty looked visibly fatigued and flustered when walking to his corner.
Pre-fight Jono had accused Declan of lacking stamina and it began to emerge why with the challenger huffing and puffing just a minute into the third and Carroll kept the pressure up, throwing repeated punches into the body of Geraghty whenever there was a lapse in the guard of Geraghty.
A barrage of sustained aggression with a minute left of the 3rd round saw Geraghty touch down, the legs of the fallen began to betray him, Carroll’s onslaught ever-hastening, but Pretty Boy, somehow, survived to see the end of the round.
The attacks began to flow from Jono – who won the previous encounter between these two southpaws – but Geraghty chipped in each salvo with a timely reminder that he was still here to fight. If not with punches but with his elusive movement to duck and weave his way from the never-ending work-rate of his nemesis.
Taking a significant time to return to the ring ahead of the fifth round, Geraghty was clearly struggling and the fight took a bit of a lull for that particular round with both men taking a breather but Carroll still remaining the busier fighter.
This fight began to turn into a pure beatdown as we extended into the second half of the bout, Carroll launching attack after attack into the body of Declan Geraghty, sapping the energy out of the game challenger who, he claimed, was the pre-fight betting favourite.
The seventh and eighth round was a familiar story with Jono Carroll keeping sustained pressure, with an evil smile on his face, varying shots from head to body but with a particular preference to the livers of Geraghty. By this point there was little doubt who would win.
Somehow Geraghty made it to the ninth round offering precious little in terms of resistence and Bob Williams, the referee, informed Geraghty that if he didn’t witness more in defence then he would call the fight off.
Bouncing around the ring, Carroll had the energy of a terrier spaniel, and looked set on finishing the job inside the distance, cutting the ring off and working on the inside of Geraghty – fighting up close and personal Geraghty fell to the ground, ruled a push, before a flurry of uppercuts from Jono Carroll saw his foe’s head bounce back and forth like a yo-yo, causing Williams to slide in and call the contest to a halt – a ninth round TKO for Jono Carroll in a case of repeat victory.
To rattle through some of the other major results from Belfast, Jack Catterall emerged the victor in tough contest with Tyrone McKenna by score-lines of 95-91, 94-93, 94-93, in a contest that, whilst entertaining, taught us very little about either prospect; Tyrone McCullagh comfortably outclassed, Scottish champion, Joe Ham to claim the vacant Celtic Super Bantamweight title with the well-mannered man proving he’s as brutal in the ring as he is polite out of it; Johnny Coyle and Lewis Benson produced an absolute war of a fight to leave pundits and punters in turmoil as to who deserved to win but, officially, the verdict was for Johnny Coyle by a single round.
Boxing and Belfast, it’s the perfect combination.
Top Rank Boxing Preview: Conlan vs. Dos Santos
By: Oliver McManus
There’s been a lot of talk about returns and comebacks in a British ring over the past weeks and month but this weekend, in Belfast, there’s, arguably, the most exciting return of all; for the first time in eight years, Michael Conlan will fight in his home town of Belfast and headline at the SSE Arena in front of a raucous crowd of near 11,000.
Already 7 and 0 as a professional, having fought in various states across America as well as in Australia, Saturday marks Conlan’s first professional fight in the United Kingdom and he’ll be looking to make a significant statement up against Adeilson Dos Santos.
Dos Santos brings pedigree to the encounter having challenged for Jessie Magdaleno’s WBO Super Bantamweight crown and whilst the Brazilian has only recently moved up to the heavier weight class – this will be his third successive fight at featherweight – his experience is something that Conlan refused to look beyond.
Something of a “gatekeeper” across both divisions, Dos Santos will be viewing this as his opportunity to cause an upset of untold magnitude and instantly reinstate himself as in-and-around the world title scene.
Conlan, himself, says 2018 is all about setting up and preparing for a big 2019, the year in which he envisions becoming world champion, and will be looking to display all of his natural ability in the most pressurised environment of his life.
The Rio Olympian has gone on record as saying he would like opponents who come to fight as opposed to those who simply tuck up, and Adeilson is the type of man who will start fast and hard, looking to disrupt the rhythm of Conlan, in a bid to really rattle the nerves of the Irish sensation.
Let’s be clear, on paper, Conlan should be more than enough to overcome his latest opponent but, as we’ve seen all too often, paper means nothing and Dos Santos has a frequent habit of taking to the centre of the ring during the first couple of rounds and swinging some wild left hands from a, borderline, crouched posture.
Indeed from some of the footage of his fights back in Brazil – undeniably against lesser opposition – he really does favour a three-four punch combination of left hooks to the ribcage of his opponent.
Conlan, meanwhile, has been forced into changing his style in past fights in order to accommodate for trickier opponents, having to go forward and really press his case whereas the more natural style of his relies on having a livewire opponent that he can really trade and tee-off with.
Genuinely one of the best counter-punchers in the business there’s an expectation that this bout – scheduled for 10 rounds – will enable Conlan to showcase what made his name in the amateur ranks and, certainly, build on everything he’s learned so far as a professional.
Also on the card is a ferocious rivalry for between Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty as the two meet for the first since a controversial four rounder between the pair way back in 2014; for context, Geraghty was six and 0 whilst Carroll was two and 0 when they faced off in November, four years ago, with the two boxers producing a barnstormer of a fighter, Geraghty leading on the scorecard, before Declan got disqualified for a repetitive use of the head in the fourth round.
Since then the heat has been brewing and the blood between them is genuinely bad, the talk from both camps in the build up to this fight has shown no signs of simmering down and, indeed, it looks as though fight night will be the boiling point and produce, yet another, sensational clash.
Geraghty believes he is the more naturally gifted boxer and that his class should outshine the “brawling” nature of Jono Carroll and since that loss Geraghty has shown an unrivalled development in terms of maturity, looking really patient and composed throughout his career in not pushing the stoppage.
Admittedly, as with every boxer, there is a weakness and you must suggest his chin is questionable having been dropped on three occasions, once against Eusebio Osejo and twice against James Tennyson, but even that has developed and Geraghty has looked particularly impressive over the course of his last 10 rounders – against John Quigley and Michael Roberts – and, let’s not forget, he has the experience to learn from his previous mistakes.
Jono Carroll, despite that tag as a brawler, has only notched up two stoppage victories from 15 wins without defeat and he takes to the ring with, yes, aggression but a continued, constant aggression that just wears down, fatigues, his opponent as opposed to bouncing them out of the ring.
The current IBF Inter-Continetnal Super-Featherweight champion, he too faced John Quigley – over 12 rounds – and claimed an edgy split decision against his fellow Irishman but looked a bit better than the scorecards suggested. If you were to isolate the Quigley fights then you’d suggest that Geraghty performed better but there’s no point in over-extrapolating one particular bout and Carroll has been consistently impressive over the course of his career.
A Prizefighter champion – that’s no mean feat – he beat Stephen Foster, Gary Buckland and Michael Devine on his way to lifting the trophy and that was only in his fourth, fifth and sixth fights.
These were experienced contenders and, albeit over only three rounds, Carroll’s high-tempo combined with a classy fighting style secured him the win and ensured development far beyond his age.
The winner of this bout will gain bragging rights for life but, more importantly, they’ll push themselves ever closer to the coveted world title shot and this could, easily, be fight of the night.
But you look down the card and there’s so much talent stacked across Tyrone McKenna taking on Jack Catterall over 10 rounds in the super lightweight division – two sleek and skilled stylish southpaws going at it, McKenna coming off the back of a convincing win against Anthony Upton and Catterall looking to further push himself up the world rankings.
Lewis Benson and Johnny Coyle will pit their unbeaten records against each other as they go head-to-head over the course of 10 rounds in a fight that looks like going the distance; Coyle is the established fighter despite being younger than Benson but ‘Kid Caramel’, as he’s known, has looked SO impressive every time he’s been in the ring so, yet again, this is another 50-50 fight that’s just TOO GOOD to miss.
Joe Ham vs Tyrone McCullagh, Gary Corcoran, Sunny Edwards, Gary Cully, Lewis Crocker, Taylor McGoldrick, Padraig McCrory… even some 21 year old Cuban called Neslan Machado, this is, without doubt, the CARD OF THE YEAR from any British promoter.
Bring it on.
Boxing Insider Interview with Michael Conlan: Ready for Belfast
By: Oliver McManus
Michael Conlan is seldom a man who needs introducing, a living legend in his home city of Belfast quickly building his legacy stateside but for the prodigious professional his fight on the 30th June will mark his first fight back home since 2010, when he was at the start of his star-studded amateur career.
Bronze at London 2012, Gold at the World, European and Commonwealth Championships saw him enter the Rio games as one of the most successful amateur fighters ever to herald from Ireland and favourite for the title. A well-documented, and controversial, Vladimir Nikitin resulted in Conlan walking away from the amateur sport.
Photo Credit: Michael Conlan Twitter Account
His fire and hunger for success was galvanized and transitioned into the paid ranks where, promoted by Bob Arum and Top Rank, the Conlan world tour has only just begun; New York, Chicago, Brisbane, Arizona, Belfast, already ticked off the list.
Seven fights, seven opponents conquered, sharing the bill with Lomachenko, Linares and Pacquaio serves as a taste for the big fight atmosphere that Michael admits he is still to get used to – his fourth headlining show on June 30th, in front of that fabled Irish crowd, should see him settle into the spotlight.
Ireland awaits, the world awaits.
We’re just over a month away from your first professional fight in the UK, in Belfast no less, how are you feeling?
I’m really looking forward to it, you know, it’s a huge thing for me, a huge achievement in my career. For me to come home and fight in Belfast is something special, it’s something I’ve dreamed of all my life as a fighter, as a boxer. Especially as a professional I think it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, to fight in the Odyssey – sorry, SSE now – and it’s the first time I’ll be boxing at home since 2010 and I’m main eventing in the SSE Arena.
It’s really special and I’m really looking forward to it.
Are there any extra nerves because it is your first fight home in so long or is it just a case of getting the job done?
No I don’t think so, I honestly don’t, I feel the fact that I’ve headlined MSG twice now and then I’ve competed on such big cards, you know, Lomachenko-Linares, Pacquiao and I’ve had major billing on those cards. I think the atmosphere that’ll be generated in the Garden on St Patrick’s Day had prepared me for what to expect.
Maybe not so much as it’s only 5,000 at the theatre but it’s the same compact, crazy atmosphere we’re expecting in Belfast. That’s definitely stood me in good stead.
It will be your fourth headlining fight from eight bouts, have you got used to that yet?
No I still get excited, I don’t think anyone ever gets used to it unless you’re like a twenty world title veteran fight, then you can get used to it, but I feel that, for me, it’s still very fresh. Especially now it’s in Belfast, it’s even more exciting for me but I definitely find that I am getting comfortable with the situation more now and I think that’s the main thing, being comfortable in those situations and being able to put in performances and not letting the nerves affect your performance.
You’re fighting a former world title challenger, what sort of a fight are you expecting?
He’s kind of more a gate-keeper type fighter now, I’d say, and I expect him to come trying to win, he’s got good power and he’s dangerous but he’s been beaten in the past and he knows what the feels like. I think he’ll be expecting to feel it again but he’ll put it on me and try and take it away from me because he may see this as his platform to get back into the mix and I’m not saying he’s a warrior but I am expecting a tough test from him because after all this is my eight fight and it is a good step up from my recent opposition.
So I am expecting a tough fight and an early on acid test to see where I’m at now and that’s what it is because there’s an awful lot riding on this – it is a test, it’s in Belfast and if it all goes wrong, it all goes wrong. I am prepared, I’m not underestimating anybody and I know he’s a tough guy who comes in and fights to win. He’s got power so I am very aware of that.
And I ask that because some of your opponents have been quite negative in their style, does it frustrate you when you can’t showcase your ability because of the way they’ve came to fight?
Oliver, you know, this is something that really annoys me but at the end of the day I can’t complain because I’ve watched these guys pre-fight and I’m going “okay this guy is going to give me a test” and against other opposition he’s going forward, he’s trying to win the fight and they’re doing a job, winning fights and they actually look like they’re game and ready to go but then when these guys have stepped in the ring they’ve kind of shied away, they’ve got too nervous, the atmosphere has maybe tripped them up and I think that’s what has happened so far.
The last guy (Ibon Larrinaga) was a former WBC Mediterranean Champion and I watched his previous clips and he always came to win and then you’ve got that David Berna guy, 14 wins 13 knockouts something like that with two losses and he’s the only that came to win. He tried a little bit, I caught him with a body shot and that was it but everybody else they just seem to be taken away by the occasion.
At the same time I can’t complain because not everybody is going to be like that, a lot of people will be tougher and harder.
In terms of your development I’m assuming you’d rather have people who come and try and beat you as opposed to people who just tuck up and let you work around them?
Yeah, yeah, definitely, I like to describe myself as a trading puncher but a boxed fighter, almost, I can do the go forward stuff but it’s not my strongest point so I like to be in the pocket but at the same time counter punching so that would be how I like it – if someone was trying to connect then I’d make them pay and even then you can tee off and it’s always a very eventful style, I feel.
And what I have been doing is going Mexican-style sometimes on people and that’s not my kind of fight.
I want to talk about the undercard for June 30th – all 50-50 fights – what does it mean to you when you look at the card and it’s so solid?
It’s brilliant, I’m really happy about it and it was one of the main things we spoke about when we talked about having me come back because I don’t want to be part of shows, even if I am the main event, where it’s just about me. I want everybody to play their part and to have a solid card, I don’t want it to just be a great main event, I want it to be a great night in general and the whole card is really solid, I’m really happy to be a part of it.
Is there any particular fight that stands out, for you?
They all do! It is very tough to pick and I honestly can’t really pick between them because I’m really interested to see how Sutcliffe-McKenna goes, I WANT to see Jono Carroll vs Declan Geraghty again because there is so much bad blood between them it’s unbelievable.
Then even Tyrone McCullagh vs Joe Ham, that’s two undefeated prospects who are probably a bit further on in their career in terms of development and they’ve had more fight, they’re facing each other and someone’s 0 will go so that’s another fight I’d like to watch.
You are signed up with Bob Arum and Top Rank but we’ve seen Frank Warren and Top Rank sign an agreement for “enhanced partnership”, does that realistically mean we can see you in Ireland and the UK more often or is you career still mainly in America?
I think most of my career will still be in America but hopefully there’ll be some more, I always said I was going to box in Ireland at least once a year and that was what I wanted to negotiate before I became professional and signed with Top Rank and we got that sorted, I’m really happy with that and hopefully with Frank Warren and Top Rank coming to an agreement we can have me fight at home more or even elsewhere in the UK or Ireland – it’s definitely something that I would love to do and be interested in doing because I know Top Rank don’t just want me to be America based or just Ireland based, they want me worldwide and it shows already in where they’ve put me.
They’ve put me in Arizona, New York, Australia, Ireland now and it’s growing and growing and growing and hopefully we can keep it going like this.
How quickly are we looking at getting you to that world level, that world title shot?
I’m thinking towards the end of next year, the end of 2019 and that’s what I kind of said when I turned professional that 2019 would be the year that I’m going to be world champion or there or thereabouts so I think this year is definitely an important year with the level of opposition that I face and next year is the crucial year, I will do a lot next year and it just depends on how I develop through the next year but if everything goes to plan, I believe I will be world champion next year.
You’re still only 26, you’re still young, are we going to see you move up or down the weights as you get older and see a multi-weight champion or are you fully committed to feather?
At the minute I’m committed to featherweight but yes, I will be a multi-weight world champion, that’s always been my aim even before I turned professional – I’m not going to move down any weights because I tried super-bantamweight but I quickly gave that up. You know I’m a big featherweight and I get in the ring at 142(lbs), 143 so I’m really happy with that because I believe I am big enough to move up to super-featherweight and even lightweight.
For you what has been your best professional performance to date?
Best professional performance? When I think about learning and what I’ve done as a whole maybe the last one because the guy gave me rounds and I was able to work off him and do things that I’d practised. Maybe I didn’t look my best but it was the little things that I developed when I was in the ring and it was probably MY best performance so far based on learning that night and I probably learnt more than I did in the rest of them.
On performances maybe St Patrick’s Day this year (Berna) when I took the guy out with the body shot, just the way it happened it was nice, a left uppercut to the body and then that was it.
Absolutely mate, can I get a prediction for your next fight, sort of result and performance?
Just another win and I’m going to say a lot stoppage maybe, I think so, a late stoppage, definitely. Another victory in what is an entertaining fight while it lasts.
Thank you so much for speaking to us, been a pleasure.
Cheers Oliver, appreciate it.
Update on Boxers from the 2012 Olympics
By: Oliver McManus
Whilst flicking through an array of Wikipedia pages in my boredom last week I found myself repeatedly coming back to the Boxing at the 2012 Summer Olympics article with disbelief at the sheer plethora of talent across the weight divisions. It’s one thing to be a world class amateur but it’s another to be a cracking professional fighter so, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the star fighter from each weight category from London 2012;
Light Flyweight – Zou Shiming
The gold medalist from 2012 in the light fly division, Zou Shiming turned professional shortly after at the ripe old age of 32 but with the backing of, top dog, Bob Arum he always looked destined to crack the big time.
And so he did as the 5ft 4in won his first title, the WBO International flyweight, in his fifth bout with thanks to a wide points decision over Luis de la Rosa before a name-making clash with Prasitsak Phaprom secured the Chinese sensation a world title shot against Amnat Ruenrong.
In this fight, and in his fight with Sho Kimura (for the WBO World title last July), his power at the weight class was clear to show and Ruenrong was dropped early in the second to prove this factor; whilst not in possession of knockout punch power, his combination of awkward foot movement and repetitive jabs ensures he’s a nightmare for all he comes across.
Unfortunately his susceptible chin has also shone through as he lost a unanimous decision to Ruenrong, before going on a three fight winning streak, and was knocked out by Kimura when leading on the scorecards.
Shiming will go down in memory due to fears he lost his eyesight in that fight with Kimura but, despite that, he’ll still have a place in the record books as world champion – in thanks to a 2nd win over Phaprom in 2016 for the WBO belt – so that’s, very much, mission accomplished.
Flyweight – Michael Conlan
2012’s flyweight champion Robeisy Ramirez, from Cuba, rather inevitably never turned professional but the silver medallist, Nyambayaryn Togstsogt, and two bronze medallists, Misha Aloyan and Michael Conlan, have all made unbeaten starts to their pro career.
By way of Aloyan having a failed drugs test on his record and being unimpressive in his last two bouts as well as Togstsogt only have two fights last year, we arrive with Michael Conlan as our stand-out professional.
Conlan, himself, went on to win a gold medal at the World Championships in 2015 and was famously eliminated via a controversial loss to Vladimir Nikitin, in which he accused the officials of amateur boxing of corruption, in Rio 2016. Following that he turned professional with Top Rank and Bob Arum, making his professional debut on the 17th March 2017 – St Patricks Day!
Since then he’s fought five times – never against an opponent with a losing record – and immediately impressed with three consecutive third round knockouts, including on the undercard of Pacquiao-Horn in Australia.
Fighting in the featherweight division, Conlan has recently changed trainers to link-up with Adam Booth, in the United Kingdom but will still be fighting on US soil and admits he’s ready to make a big splash in 2018 with his fast handwork and evasive footwork looking likely to earn him a title shot of some variety before the year is out.
Bantamweight – Luke Campbell
The lightest British fighter to win gold at their home games of 2012, Luke Campbell looked most impressive during the semi-finals when he outpointed, skilful Japanese, Satoshi Shimizu before comfortably winning the gold medal against John Joe Nevin from Ireland.
As is the case for most fighters, what with amateur and professional weight classes being quite vastly different, Campbell competes in the lightweight division and, since turning pro in the middle of 2013, has notched up 17 wins and 2 losses.
First making a statement in his home town of Hull, Campbell clinically stopped local rival Tommy Coyle within 10 rounds back in 2015 to secure the WBC International title and did so by way of 4 knockdowns that showcased his all-round ability as a fighter but, particularly, the punishing left-hand hook to the body that he’s utilized with great effect throughout his career.
Since then he dropped a surprise split-decision loss to Yvan Mendy but has rebuilt his reputation with thanks to wins against Argenis Mendez, Derry Matthews, Jairo Lopez and Darleys Perez to earn himself a number one ranking.
And thanks to that he found himself in the ring with, future Hall of Famer, Jorge Linares at the back end of September last year in a fight which many ruled him out of. For the WBA Lightweight title, Campbell was dropped in the 2nd round before showing heart and guts galore to provide Linares with his toughest challenge of his career but ultimately came up just short with the Venezuelan winning 115-112, 114-113, 115-113 on the scorecards.
Nonetheless with talks swirling around a fight with Vasyl Lomachenko in the future, the future is looking more than bright for the British super-star.
Lightweight – Vasyl Lomachenko
And talking of Vasyl Lomachenko let’s turn our attentions to the Ukrainian. Hmm, I wonder what happened to him following the Olympics in London?
Congratulations if you detected the sarcasm because the amateur stand-out, can we stress STAND OUT, has only gone and already staked his claim as one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of ALL time with a mere 11 fights under his belt.
Already a two-weight world champion, Lomachenko signed with Top Rank in 2013 and went straight into the big time with a world title fight in only his second bout. Against Orlando Salido, Loma would make history if he won the title in only his second pro fight, his Mexican opponent weighed in 2lbs over weight and rehydrated to 21lbs over the limit come fight night.
Uncharacteristically from Lomachenko he tended to shy away from engaging with Salido for much of the fight and despite the fact the bout was marred by an incredible amount of low blows, he failed to make history by way of a, shockingly controversial, split decision.
Following that, though, there’s been no looking back as he comfortably nullified Gary Russell Jr to claim the WBO Featherweight title, defending it twice, before jumping up to Super Feather where he’s consistently made world class fighters look ordinary – Roman Martinez, Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and Guillermo Rigondeaux all succumbing to his incredible timing and shot-placement.
Still only 30 and already a two-weight world champion, the sport is firmly in the hand of Vasyl Lomachenko and, to be frank, it’s up to him how great he wants to be.
Light Welterweight – SPLIT DECISION
Now this is where things get very tricky because of the four medallists at London 2012 – Roniel Igelsias, Denys Berinchyk, Vincenzo Mangiacapre and Uranchimegiin Monkh-Erdene – all can lay claim to being sensational within their amateur careers but only Berinchyk turned pro and has looked fairly lacklustre in moving to 6-0 since.
Looking deeper down the fighters then there’s a range of fighters that have turned pro and had relative success within in the paid ranks but I feel it’s wrong to pick any of them given that they didn’t particularly impress over the course of the Olympics.
As a result we’ll just rattle through some of those that have since turned pro;
Daniyar Yeleussinov – won gold at Rio 2016 and beat Josh Kelly on the way, recently signed a professional contract with Eddie Hearn.
Jeff Horn – fell at the Quarter-Finals of 2012 but has since caused an international furore thanks to his unanimous decision against Pacquiao last July.
Anthony Yigit – the European super-lightweight champion turned professional in 2013 and has since gone 22 fights unbeaten. Will be looking to challenge for a world title this year.
Welterweight – Majority Draw; Taras Shelestyuk and Custio Clayton
Truth be told the welterweight division threw up the same issue with Taras Shelestyuk the only medallist to cause much of a stir in the professional game.
Trained by the legendary Freddie Roach, the Ukrainian first took a step up after 13 fights when he displayed his plethora of impressive footwork skills to outmanoeuvre and out-point, 26-1, Aslanbek Kozaev to win international versions of the WBA and WBO welterweight titles.
Since then he’s been infrequent in the ring with only 3 fights over the following 27 months but has continued to look impressive whenever we’ve seen him fight.
As a result of that lack of regularity I’ve decided to include Custio Clayton, six-time Canadian amateur champion, because for me he’s been the best of all the welterweight fighters to turn professional in moving to 13 and 0 since turning pro in 2014.
His last fight against Cristian Coria came on the undercard of Saunders-Lemieux and was broadcast on both HBO and BT Sport, Clayton demolished Coria winning on all three card by margins of 100-88, 100-88, 100-88 with the Canadian making Coria pay thanks to sublime footwork and punch-perfect combinations.
Middleweight – Ryota Murata
Yet another Top Rank amateur-turn-professional, Ryota Murta claimed Japan’s first ever boxing medal outside of the bantam and flyweight division by claiming gold at 2012.
Murata was embroiled in controversy with the Japanese Boxing federation at the beginning of his career but that failed to put him off his natural game with his key strength being pushing the opponent back onto the ropes before unloading with successive right-left hand jabs to the body and head.
In May of last year he faced Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the WBA ‘Regular’ Middleweight title and despite many thinking Murata comfortably won the bout he was victim to a surprise split-decision in which he won 117-110 on one card but lost by 5 and 3 rounds, respectively, on the others.
Since then he has had the rematch with N’Jikam where he managed to comfortably prove his superiority in forcing the Frenchman to retire after the 7th round after being unable to answer Murata’s barrage of high-pace combination shots.
Next up for Murata is a clash with Emanuele Felice Blandamura but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be taken seriously as a world champion until he takes on either the winner of GGG/Canelo (who’ll have the WBA Super belt) or Billy Joe Saunders (the WBO champion).
Light Heavyweight – Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Into the light heavyweight division we go where we find Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a 6ft 2in Ukrainian with an imposing 76inch reach, who won the bronze medal at 2012.
Gvozdyk turned pro in 2014 – yet another Olympian who signed for Top Rank – and made his debut on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley 2. Since then The Nail has moved up the rankings rapidly with crushing knockout after crushing knockout.
In 2016 he took on, former world title challenger, Isaac Chilemba as he defended his NABF Light Heavyweight title. In what was an obvious step up for the, then, 29 year old, Gvozdyk made good use of left jab to keep the Malawian challenger at bay and displayed obvious athletic prowess in navigating the full range of the ring.
Flowing combinations at the ropes followed by swinging over hand punches showed what he’s all about and really enhanced his standing on the world stage. One of the most under-rated light heavy’s in the business, Gvozdyk is by rights in the Top 10 worldwide but has seemingly gone under the radar with very little hype surrounding the behemoth of a man.
14 wins, 12 knockouts is enough to send shivers down even the bravest of spines (if a spine can, indeed, be brave) but when he faces Medhi Amar for the interim WBC World Light Heavyweight title on the 17th March he’ll be looking to make a chilling statement.
Heavyweight – Oleksandr Usyk
We move from one Ukrainian to another, from one Oleksandr to another! Usyk this time was yet another empirical amateur, winning gold at London 2012 as well as the 2011 World Championships and 2008 European Championships.
On his way to the 2012 Gold Usyk beat, current light-heavyweight world champion, Artur Beterbiev, Tervel Pulev (Kubrat Pulev’s younger brother) and amateur legend Clemente Russo.
Such was the stir he caused that K2 Promotions, the Klitschko brother’s promotional arm, snapped him up and set about moving him swiftly up the ranks with Usky going from his debut in November 2013 to WBO Inter-Continental champion by October the following year.
Retaining that title on four further occasions, Usyk gained a world title shot against Krzysztof Glowacki in September 2016, Usyk’s first fight in nearly 12 months, and Glowacki was widely expected to get the better of the still, relatively, unknown Ukrainian.
Expectation is often different to reality and so it proved as he shattered the pre-fight predictions with a convincing points victory that really launched his name into stardom.
Two defences against Thabiso Mchunu and Michael Hunter, both in America, helped build his name and profile across the pond before the World Boxing Super Series came along in a bid to crown one unified cruiserweight champion.
Against Marco Huck, the former cruiserweight kingpin who defended his title on 16 occasions, Usyk blasted Huck into a shell of his former being before going toe-to-toe in an incredible unification clash with Mairis Briedis which did show chinks in the armour of the formidable Ukrainian but also showed just how tough and resolute a fighter he was.
The final awaits, the world awaits, 11th May in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, could be the crowning of his career as he seeks to become undisputed cruiserweight champion against Murat Gassiev for all the belts.
Super Heavyweight – Anthony Joshua
Great Britain’s poster boy of boxing Anthony Joshua was, arguably, fortunate to edge the decision during his gold medal match against Roberto Cammarelle but looked more than impressive when beating Zhilei Zhang and Erislandy Savon so it was no surprise to see him immediately signed by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.
All eyes of the boxing world were immediately on him with everyone wanting to know whether he’d be the next Lennox Lewis or the next Audley Harrison and, as we’ve now come to know, he was no Harrison!
Fighting an unknown but unbeaten Italian, Emanuele Leo, for his pro debut, Joshua lit up The O2 Arena with bouncing footwork and an imposing jab that already put the world on notice. Unloading with that trademark reaching right hand he finished off Leo in the first round to set up a run of 20 wins and 20 knockouts.
Against Kevin Johnson he made a statement by becoming the first boxer to stop the well-respected American and defend his WBC International title first won against Denis Bakhtov. Since then he was involved in a tempestuous grudge match with Dillian Whyte before being called out by “The King” Charles Martin who was promptly dispatched with in a humiliating two rounds.
With that victory came the IBF Heavyweight world title and Joshua’s mind has been on nothing but unification since – he’s had to be patient with wins against Dominic Brezeale and Eric Molina preceding a clash with Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF, WBA and IBO titles.
In a real changing of the guard fight Joshua hit the canvas for the first time in his career and was trailing on points but showed the true fighting spirit of a champion to stop Klitschko in the 11th round. Takam followed, stopped in the 10th and now AJ has the opportunity to cement his legacy by adding the WBO strap to his burgeoning collection when he faces Joseph Parker on the 31st March.
Women’s flyweight – Nicola Adams
Nicola Adams made history as the first ever women’s boxing champion when she won flyweight gold in front of her home crowd and defended her title at Rio 2016 to complete an unprecedented Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European quadruple.
With interest abound from pretty much every promoter both in the UK and America, Adams signed with Frank Warren at the beginning of 2017 and has impressed thus far in her three professional bouts. She kicks of 2018 in Leeds on May 19th and will be looking to win a world title this year.
Women’s lightweight – Katie Taylor
A star studded amateur who won five consecutive world championship golds, six European golds, five European Union goals as well as Olympic glory in 2012, Katie Taylor is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish sports start of her generation.
Signing as a professional with Eddie Hearn in 2016, the high tempo Irish sensation made her debut at Wembley stadium and won her first professional world title on the undercard of Anthony Joshua-Carlos Takam after comfortably beating Anahi Sanchez.
Following that she topped the bill at York Hall in defending her title against Jessica McCaskill and will look to make her name in the US when she seeks to unify her WBA title with the IBF version of, Argentine, Victoria Bustos.
Middleweight – Claressa Shields
If winning a gold medal aged 17 wasn’t enough then how about defending that title four years later AND winning every major championship in between? Sounds pretty good but that doesn’t even scratch the surface for Claressa Shields.
Since turning pro in 2016 she’s become the first women’s headliner on a US premium network card, appearing on Showtime and has won both the WBC and IBF Super middleweight title in only her 4th professional fight before defending against, US legend, Tori Nelson.
So it’s been a fast journey to the top, it’s fair to say – she’s a double world champion in the professional ranks, double Olympic & World champion in the amateurs, she’s headlining shows on major networks and she’s still only 22!
This is the future of women’s boxing, right here. I’ll go even further, Claressa Shields is THE future of boxing. Period.
And that, therefore, concludes, our look back at the class of 2012 and I think it’s fair to see, we weren’t half blessed with some talent, were we?
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Lomachenko Outclasses Rigondeaux, Stevenson, Conlan, Jennings, and Diaz Win
By: William Holmes
The Theatre at the Madison Square Garden was the host site for tonight’s highly anticipated WBO Super Featherweight World Title fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Both Lomachenko and Rigondeaux had outstanding amateur careers winning two gold medals each.
Some of Top Rank’s most coveted boxers were featured on the undercard, including Michael Conlan, Shakur Stevenson, and former heavyweight title contender Bryant Jennings.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
The opening bout of the night was between Shakur Stevenson (4-0) and Oscar Mendoza (4-2) in the featherweight division.
Shakur Stevenson looked levels beyond Oscar Mendoza and warmed up quickly and was landing crisp combinations within the first minute of the fight. Mendoza was able to offer little in return but cover up.
Stevenson opened up the second round with hard combination that sent Mendoza falling backwards into the rope. He followed that up with some punishing body shots. Stevenson continued to obliterate Mendoza until the referee, Sparkle Lee, stepped in to stop the fight.
The stoppage may have been premature, but Mendoza was clearly outclassed
Shakur Stevenson wins by TKO at 1:38 of the second round.
The next bout of the night was between Christopher Diaz (21-0) and Bryant Cruz (18-2) in the Super Featherweight division.
Cruz was the first to land with a quick jab but Diaz was able to land the combinations and crisper counters. A straight right hand by Diaz sent Cruz to his butt in the first, but Cruz was able to get back to his feet and survive the first.
Cruz looked recovered by the start of the second round and was sharp with his jab. Diaz however landed a left hook that may have clipped behind Cruz’s head that made his legs wobbly and sent him to the mat again. Diaz was knocked down a second time in the second round with a straight right hand that forced Diaz to take a knee to take time to recover.
Diaz jumped right on Cruz in the third round and had him wobbly and sent him to the mat for the fourth time in the night. This time the referee decided to stop the fight.
Christopher Diaz wins by TKO at 0:37 of the third round.
The next fight of the night was a featherweight fight between Luis Molina (4-3-1) and Michael Conlan (4-0).
Conlan, an Irish Olympian, was levels above Luis Molina and was landing a good jab to the body and head in the first two rounds of the fight. Conlan fought with his hands low throughout the fight and by the fourth land had landed eighty punches in comparison to the twenty that Molina landed.
Conlan was able to stagger Molina in the fifth round with a good left hook and was able to do some damage with left uppercuts.
By the end of the fight Conlan had out landed Molina 128-31. All three judges scored the bout 60-54 for Michael Conlan.
The main event of the night was between Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0) for the WBO Super Featherweight Title.
The crowd could be heard chanting for Lomachenko during the referee instructions. Lomachenko had about a seven-pound weight advantage at the unofficial weigh ins before the fight.
Rigondeaux opened up the first round with a good two punch combination, but Lomachenko pressed the action more and was constantly looking for openings to land his jab.
Lomachenko was finding angles to land on Rigondeaux in the second round and had a sharp right hook. Rigondeaux was holding a lot in the second round and that holding continued throughout the fight. Rigondeaux consistently ducked low to try and avoid the punches of Lomachenko, but Lomachenko was able to find his target and dance around Rigondeaux.
The right uppercut from Lomachenko did some damage in the third round and the referee warned Rigondeaux again to not hold. Lomachenko was toying with Rigondeaux in the fourth round and Rigondeaux was beginning to look frustrated.
Lomachenko walked Rigondeaux down in the fifth round and Rigondeaux was showing his frustration by punching Lomachenko during a break. Lomachenko’s confidence only continued to grow into the sixth round as he dazzled the fans with his footwork and accurate counters.
Rigondeaux lost a point in the sixth round for holding, but he was losing every exchange when he was not holding his opponent. When Rigondeaux went to his corner before the start of the seventh he told his corner his hand was injured and that he could not continue.
Vasyl Lomachenko wins by TKO at the end of round six due to Guillermo Rigondeaux not being able to come out for the seventh due to an injured hand.
Michael Conlan Returns to MSG Theatre on Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux Undercard
By Eric Lunger
Former Olympian Michael “Mick” Conlan of Belfast, Ireland, returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night to take on Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1, 2 KOs) of Argentina in a six-round featherweight bout on the undercard of the much-anticipated Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux Top Rank on ESPN event.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
Conlan (4-0, 4 KOs) first rose to international prominence in the 2016 Rio Olympics where he was blatantly robbed of a decision in a quarterfinal bout against Vladimir Nikitin of Russia. Conlan let the judges know exactly how he felt; the image of him standing in the middle of the ring, flashing the double bird in his hand wraps to the judges, sums up the ineptitude (to be charitable) of the judging in the Rio tournament. His tirade in the aftermath of the decision was likewise memorable. Not content to let matters rest there, Conlan even sent a tweet to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “How much did they charge you, Bro???” Putin has been called a lot of things, but probably never “bro.”
Whatever the state of international judging, Conlan, age 26, quickly signed a professional contract with Top Rank and made his debut at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, on St. Patrick’s Day 2017, defeating Tim Ibarra by a third-round TKO and sending the Irish fans into a frenzy. In his last outing in August, Conlan scored a dramatic second-round knockout win over Kenny Guzman, showing significant improvement in form over the Ibarra fight.
Conlan grew up in the Catholic districts of West Belfast, a tough area still struggling to put the effects of the bloody and bitter “Troubles” (as the civil strife between Unionists and Republicans was known) behind them. Like kids on other mean streets, boxing for Mick Conlan was a way to a better life, a channel for energy that might otherwise have been ill-spent. He wears his pride in his roots on his sleeve, but he equally proud of where boxing has taken him. Trained from his amateur days by his father, Mick moved to the US and currently lives and trains in southern California under the guidance of veteran trainer Manny Robles.
Stylistically, Conlan likes to be on his front foot. Fighting out of an orthodox stance, he can jab effectively to the body and the head; in fact, he likes the jab to the chest to set up the overhand right. His left hook, though, is also an effective weapon to the rib cage or as a lead to the head. In short, he possesses a professional offensive tool kit. Defensively, Conlan relies on a combination to head movement, body lean, and quick in-and-out footwork. He also possesses a bit of the showman streak in the ring, switching to a southpaw stance in order to confuse an opponent, to open the fight up, or just be entertaining. But the southpaw work has become more than show: after the win over Jarrett Owen in Australia in July, Robles confirmed that the southpaw offense was something they had been intentionally drilling in the gym.
Is Mick Conlan ready for the top names in the division? No, and no one should expect him to be. He has a deep amateur background, but he has plenty of areas to develop first, especially in tightening up his hooks and polishing his defensive skills. Will he be a contender down the road? Almost certainly, as long as he continues to be brought along carefully. Saturday night should be another step, and, judging from his previous bouts, it will definitely be entertaining.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Valdez, Conlan, and Ramirez Entertain and Win
By: William Holmes
Tucson Arena in Tucson, Arizona was the host site for tonight’s broadcast of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and featured two world title fights which featured two popular Mexican boxing stars.
The co-main event of the night was between Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez and Jessie Hart for Ramirez’s WBO Super Middleweight Title and the main event was between Oscar Valdez and Genesis Servania for Valdez’s WBO Featherweight Title.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
The undercard featured several up and coming prospects, including Irish Olympian Michael Conlan. Tonight’s card was supposed to start on ESPN, but the baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers ended later than expected and the fight card started on ESPN News.
Michael Conlan (3-0) opened up the telecast against Kenny Guzman (3-0) in the featherweight division in a six round bout.
Conlan has 340 fights as an amateur compared to 47 amateur fights for Kenny Guzman, who also works a full-time carpenter.
The first round was more of a feeling out round as Guzman was able to land some decent shots but Conlan was clearly the better technical boxer. Conlan switched to a southpaw stance midway through the first round with some moderate success.
Conlan switched back into an orthodox stance and was sitting on his punches more in the second round. Guzman’s left eye was showing signs of swelling and blood was coming from his nose as he was taking some heavy shots from Conlan. Conlan landed a heavy right hand in the final ten seconds of the second round that sent Guzman falling backwards to the mat. He was able to get back up before the count of ten but was still wobbly and the referee waived off the fight.
Michael Conlan wins by TKO at 2:59 of the second round.
The next fight of the night was for the WBO Super Middleweight Title between Jesse Hart (22-0) and Gilberto Ramirez (35-0).
Ramirez was slightly taller than Hart, who was active with his jab early on. Hart was very active while circling and was able to stay on the outside in the opening round.
Hart continued to stay active with his jab into the second round and appeared to be a little hesitant of Ramirez’s power. Hart had a habit of ducking his head low when he gets in tight and Ramirez was able to take advantage of that with a short right uppercut that sent Hart crashing to the mat. Hart was able to get back to his feet and survive the round, but he was badly hurt.
Hart had a decent third round and was given time to recover from a low blow by Ramirez, but Ramirez had an excellent fourth round and appeared close to stopping Jesse Hart several times during that round.
Ramirez kept up the pressure in the fourth and fifth rounds and was landing a high number of power shots. Hart was able to slip in a few shots of his own, but he also lost his balance several times in the corner of the ring.
Hart may have stolen some of the middle rounds from the sixth round to the ninth as he was able to land some decent counter shots and avoid getting hurt again. Hart had a very strong ninth round with good straight right hands, but Ramirez showed a strong chin and was able to continue to walk forward.
Both boxers left everything in the ring in the championship rounds with both boxers landing heavy blows and absorbing heavy punishment. But Ramirez ended the final round as the aggressor.
It was an entertaining and competitive bout. The judges scored it 115-112, 115-112, and 114-113 for Gilberto Ramirez.
The main event of the night was between Oscar Valdez (22-0) and Genesis Servania (29-0) for the WBO Featherweight Title.
Servania is a Filipino boxer who trains in Japan. This was his first professional fight outside of Asia.
Servania showed a lot of head movement early on and had some success with his left hook, but Valdez was far more active and was landing good shots to the body.
Valdez was in control in the second and third rounds and simply out landed the constantly coming forward Servania.
Servania was able to score a flash knockdown in the fourth round on Valdez as he was backing away with his hands down. Valdez was in some trouble at the end of the round when Servania was able to catch him off guard with a good combination.
Valdez turned the tide of the fight back in his favor in the fifth round when a clean left hook sent Servania crashing to the mat. Servania was able to get back to his feet and slug it out with Valdez as the round came to an end, but he was badly hurt.
Servania may have stolen the sixth round with a round ending combination, but Valdez outworked Servania for most of the round. Valdez appeared settled in the seventh round and was the more aggressive fighter.
Valdez’s body work won him the eighth round and he was cruising by the ninth. Sevania, to his credit, never stopped coming forward despite the constant barrage of punches.
Servania was reaching for his punches in the tenth and eleventh round and never had Valdez in trouble. Vadez just continued to pile up the points by throwing at Servania whenever he got in range.
The final round was exciting as Servania came right at Valdez to exchange to start the final round and took several risks throughout, but his punches just weren’t powerful enough to hurt Valdez or put him down again.
Oscar Valdez defends his title with scores of 116-110, 119-111, 117-109.
Conlon Wins Pro Debut As McGregor Proclaims He’ll Take Over Boxing
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.
The Pride of Ireland: Michael Conlan
The Pride of Ireland: Michael Conlan
By: Francisco Martinez
St. Patrick’s Day only comes once a year and this year you can bank on it that Michael Conlan’s debut will be one not to forget as the start of a promising career officially begins. Michael, or Mick, Micky as some call him enjoyed his 1st U.S. media day in Los Angeles, California but definitely not new to this media attention “I’m used to it. I like it. It’s just natural for me. It’s another part of the game and you got to enjoy what you do”
With an estimate of 2 thousand family, friends, fans and supporters making the trip for Michael Conlan’s massive debut in the Theater at the Madison Square Garden this is what Conlan says they can expect from his pro debut “I’m gonna give them some entertainment. Some excitement and a happy ending and a nice party after” making it sound more like a concert than a boxing fight as the charismatic Conlan plans to treat his family and friends to an unforgettable March 17th Top Rank promotions show in New York.
Not even 1 fight into their careers, Michael Conlan & Shakur Stevenson already seem to be in a crash course to a mega showdown as promoter, the legendary Bob Arum is aiming for with his two new young guns who became part of Arum’s young stable additions to the likes of WBO 126lbs champion Oscar Valdez, WBO 122lbs champion Jessie Magdaleno, who both Conlan and Stevenson have sparred and WBO 168lbs champion Gilberto Zurdo Ramirez. BoxingInsider picked the brains of both Conlan & Stevenson just to see where they stand on this little rivalry that has been sparked by their promoter Bob Arum.
“I feel like me and Michael Conlan have some unfinished business that we didn’t get to handle in Brazil so, Michael Conlan is a great fighter and I like his style. I love his boxing style he a technician also and the fans are gonna want to see that, so…” says the young enthusiastic 2016 Olympic silver medalist, Shakur Stevenson. Kind but competitive words of his rival Michael Conlan who replied by saying “He’s a nice respectful kid. It’s a potential fight and I’m happy with that. That’s good for me down the line that’s a money fight. Everybody is in this business to make money so that’s a fight I would want. I rate him as a fighter and he’s a real good fighter. Very skillful so, it’s a fight that I really want and I’m really happy he signed with Top Rank so it’s possible for a future fight”
Conlan goes on to systematically break down Stevenson’s style “He’s very defensive. He’s a box fighter. More defensive very up right, shoulder roll kind of stance but I’m sure, I’m confident that I would have beat him in the Olympics. I’m confident I’ll beat him now. I’m confident I’ll beat him in the future so no matter what happens I’ll be ready when the time comes. I got the best team around me. The best management team, the best promotional team and the best coaching team so I have nothing to fear. I’m ready for anyone so bring it on”
In regards to St. Patrick’s Day being an Irish exclusive holiday and time of celebration it’s a no brainer that his debut will benefit from this Irish contingency as Michael Conlan would like to make this date an annual date in his career a lot like when Floyd Mayweather Jr. took over the Mexican dates of May & September. Dates that now belong to Saul Canelo Alvarez. Conlan says “I want to hold St. Patrick’s Day in the Garden every single year. That’s what I want, I want that to be my day and this is the start of it and it will continue. I feel it’s probably the best day in the year to fight in the Garden and maybe 2 years, 3 years time we’ll be fighting in the big Garden and that’s my aim. I want to sell it out in a world title”
Most should be informed by now that Michael Conlan has the co-sign of the great MMA fighter and fellow Irish countryman in Conor McGregor who will walk him out for his pro debut upon the request of Conlan who McGregor was kind enough to accommodate for his wishes. Conlan first came across McGregor by helping him select sparring for one of his fights with Nate Diaz. Now if we dig a little deeper into this friendship between Conlan & McGregor we’ll find a little truth to the so much talked about dream showdown between McGregor and Mayweather.
A fight that has grasp the attention of both sports and Mayweather who’s really pushing for this fight as he sees some serious dollar signs at the end of this tunnel. Perhaps a bigger pay day than a rematch with Manny Pacquiao and a bigger pay day than the actual 1st fight with Pacquiao which netted Mayweather something along the lines of $300 million. Even though some are critical of this possible circus act that will surely entertain we’re not sure how much this fight is really possible. However rumors as of late say the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas has been put on hold which only makes this dream scenario a more concrete one than ever before.
Michael Conlan shares a little insight as to who Conor McGregor is as a person and a little on how McGregor feels about a potential bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. “He’s a guy who believes in his ability and if he gets the Mayweather fight 100% he believes he’ll win” as for possibly helping McGregor prepare for a fight inside of the ring other than the octagon Conlan said he wouldn’t sparr him “He’s too big. He’s like 170lbs at the minute or 180lbs. He’s a big man. His hands are like two sizes bigger than mine”
Michael Conlan previewed his speed, power & skills in front of dozens of media members and from what we saw the talent level in him is an extraordinary one. Great chemistry with trainer Manny Robles. Both being fond of each other as they competed in the World Boxing Series a few years back and managed to catch each other’s attention with their respective abilities as trainer and fighter. Fast forward a few years later now both a team and one that will surely be a great hit and formula for great success in boxing.
Tune in March 17th live in the Theater at the Madison Square Garden in New York, St. Patrick’s Day for the massive debut of this young future legend, the pride of Ireland, Michael Conlan.
Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish
Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish
By: Francisco Martinez
Bronze medalist and 2x Olympian amateur standout Michael Conlan debuts March 17th in New York at the Madison Square Garden on a Friday that so happens to land on a St. Patrick’s Day but this time around as we tap into our inner Irishman and drink a pint or two we will be treated to a memorable Top Rank promotions event. Headlined by the young lad Conlan who many remember from this past year’s 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro where Conlan was favored to bring back gold to his home country of Belfast, Northern Ireland but instead the young Irish hopeful saw his dreams of Olympic gold shattered in what he felt was a decision influenced by AIBA corruption.
Now the highly touted Top Rank promotions signee sets his eyes on a road to a different kind of gold. A world title that former pugilist and now Conlan’s manager Matthew Macklin expects from his young eccentric fighter “I think Michael will go all the way. Guaranteed he’d be world champion. He’s a special talent and I think by the people at Top Rank he’ll be maneuvered into a PPV star” high expectations not just from his manager but his brother as well, current WBO Inter-Continental 115lbs champ Jamie Conlan “I get more nervous for him than when I fight myself. It’s because it’s outta my control. I do believe he is the best fighter in the world. He was the best amateur in the world. He’s just now coming, he’s a rookie in the pros but he’s come to the right man who’s gonna bring him along perfectly. I believe in Manny (Robles) and what I’ve learned in these 3 weeks or more, over 3 weeks of being out here (in Los Angeles) in their environment is that he certainly in the right hands. In really good hands with Manny who’s not gonna rush him. He is building him along perfectly and slowly but surely will mature him into a world champion”
Being about 5 thousand miles away from home Michael Conlan is not too far from his comfort zone having been joined by fellow lads in brother Jamie Conlan, Tyrone McKenna & 2 time Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes who are set to fight on February 18th along with his fiancé & daughter who are key to his journey as a fighter “It’s great having them here it does make me feel at home…my fiancé & daughter are here and for me that’s very important. I don’t think I would be able to be on this journey without them. Having them here it’s very important to me”
BoxingInsider.com: “Being from Ireland how have you adapted now here in California? How do you take to the change? The Culture?”
Michael Conlan: “Its great. I think since I’ve started working with Manny since November, when we got together I think it was instant. A great connection right away. It usually takes me a long time to get used to a new coach but with Manny I was ready. The first day I was in the gym I felt we were used to each other already so that was great for me. The lifestyle out here you can’t beat it. It’s the sun. Once you wake up to the sunny weather it’s a lot easier than when you are in Ireland waking up to rain everyday or else a cold morning. So when you wake up to the sun you’re always gonna be happy so I’m happy to be here”
BoxingInsider.com: “Manny do you feel the same about the connection with Michael?”
Manny Robles: “Absolutely, absolutely. He’s a kid that is humble. Very important in a individual. This kid is a good kid. We’re dealing with a good boxer but more important than anything else more important than dealing with a good boxer is we’re dealing with a good human being. It’s always nice to be around talent of course. Talented fighters like Michael but now that I’ve had a chance to meet his dad (who came from Ireland) I can understand why he’s such a good kid. His dad has done a great job raising him and keeping him grounded. That’s the most important thing. Everything else, the talent is extra”
Michael Conlan: “Fighting is (the) fun time. This is (the) hard work. Fighting is where we go and have fun and we do what we have practiced. What we put into practice and we get the victory we’ll enjoy it. Unlike when you gotta wake up and your body is in pain and you come in here and Manny beats the shit outta you on the pads. That’s the hard work. That’s where it all stems from you know. When you have a good coach like him pushing you every single day what more do you want?”
After a controversial decision in Rio 2016 that shattered his dreams of Olympic gold Michael Conlan expressed his even more controversial thoughts & emotions regarding the judges questionable decision by calling them “cheats” & “cheating bastards” which only made matters worse as the AIBA in return hitting him with a hefty fine of €9,300 euros. These past Olympics also saw the removable of a combined 36 referees & judges pending an internal investigation that lasted about a 4 month period . Having had his differences with AIBA Conlan had this to say about the final results of the AIBA investigation claiming no foul play.
“I think it’s shit to be honest. I think it’s bullshit because the judges are still sacked. They’re not coming back. I think they have found something but they don’t want to admit wrong doing cause it opens up, it kind of ruins it for everybody”
For those casual boxing fans who don’t know Michael Conlan’s style or have never seen him fight manager Matthew Macklin describes him as a complete fighter as he goes on to say “I think he’s a pretty complete fighter. He can box, that’s probably his best attribute he’s a really good boxer. He’s really smart. He’s tall for his weight. He hits quite hard but he can also sit in the pocket and fight in the inside and his experience and his self belief. He really believes in himself which is key. He really, really does believe in himself and he’s backed it up. He’s a bronze medalist as a 20 year old in the Olympics. He was commonwealth (games) gold medalist. European (amateur championships) gold medalist and best boxer of the tournament, world amateur champion. He should’ve won the gold medal, we believe in Rio. He lost out in the quarter finals to a very, very bad decision. So his international experience is 2nd to none and he has the right team around him. He’s got a great stable here at the rock gym (in Carson, CA) great sparring, Oscar Valdez (WBO 126lbs champion) Jessie Magdaleno (WBO 122lbs champion) just to name 2. I think everything is going right for him”
There’s high expectations from everyone in Michael Conlan’s team as a whole but it also seems the young lad has gotten the stamp of approval by fellow Irishman UFC PPV star Conor McGregor who promised to carry the Irish flag upon walking him out into the ring for his massive debut. With all this going into Conlan’s pro debut it can only make you anticipate what future plans legendary promoter Bob Arum may have for Conlan given the huge success Arum has had not just with Mexican & American fighters but foreign pugilists as well having produce Manny Pacquiao one of boxing’s biggest PPV stars and Vasyl Lomachenko considered my many to be pound for pound the best fighter alive today. Tune in March 17th St. Patrick’s Day in Manhattan, New York at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca Of Boxing for Michael Conlan’s debut set to be Televised on UniMas.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Top Rank, Golden Boy, Conlan, Vasquez Jr., Farmer, Eubank, and more…
Boxing Insider Notebook: Top Rank, Golden Boy, Conlan, Vasquez Jr., Farmer, Eubank, and more…
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of September 13th to September 20th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Top Rank Promotions Signs Michael Conlan
Irish amateur star Michael Conlan, best known for his upset loss at the Rio Olympics that many felt he won, has signed with Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions.
Most boxing fans will remember Conlan for giving the middle fingers to the judges and other Olympic officials after his upset loss to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin. Top Rank will likely capitalize on the ability of Irish fighters to draw fans in droves to boxing venues.
PPV Rights Secured for Vasquez Jr. vs Lopez
Integrated Sports Media, North America’s undisputed leader of pay-per-view distribution of major boxing events, has secured the rights to for the much anticipated showdown between former world champions Wilfredo”Papito” Vazquez, Jr. and Juan Manuel “JuanMa” Lopez, headlining “Guerra En El Clemente,” Saturday night, October 8, live from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Guerra En El Clemente: Vasquez Jr. Lopez, presented by Black Tiger Media, will be distributed by Integrated Sports Media live, starting at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, in the United States and Puerto Rico on both cable and satellite pay per view on iN Demand, DISH, DIRECTV and Vubiquity. The event will also be available to watch across Canada on Fight Network, as well as via Fite TV app for iOS and Androide devises or watch on the www.Fite.TV website. Suggested retail price is $29.95.
“We’re excited to bring North American boxing fans a true grudge match between former world champions Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr. and Juan Manuel Lopez,” Integrated Sports Media president Doug Jacobs said. “It’s also a crossroads fight with the winner most likely back as a legitimate world title contender and the loser possibly facing retirement. They really don’t like each other and sparks will be flying from the opening bell. Additional pay-per-view fights will be announced soon and with the passion of Puerto Rican fighters, we anticipate a can’t-miss show for real boxing fans.”
“I am thrilled and happy to be able to present this highly anticipated event to boxing fans in Puerto Rico and the United States,” said Carlos Maldonado, President of Black Tiger Promotions. “The response from all cable and satellite providers has been phenomenal. This fight promises to be an all-out war in the ring, non-stop action from the opening bell until the end, which could happen at any moment. No hype; these guys really don’t like each other. ”
The 12-round Vasquez, Jr. vs. Lopez main event is presented in association with Matias Entertainment and sponsored by Best Alarms and Municipio de San Juan.
Tevin Farmer Ready for All Comers
Hot junior lightweight Tevin Farmer is ready for the biggest fights between the featherweight and lightweight divisions.
Farmer of Philadelphia has won 15 fights in a row and is now ranked number-five by the WBC at 130-pounds.
In his last bout, Farmer put on a masterful performance in a virtual shutout over highly regarded Ivan Redkach on July 30 in Brooklyn, New York.
“First I want to thank Ivan Redkach for taking the fight. I really do. Because he gave me an opportunity to showcase my skills. No one else was biting. Ivan is a warrior. The fight itself was just me being me. Showing I’m one of the best fighters in the world. I took the fight at 135 because I literally can’t get a fight in my weight class. I don’t want to come off as thirsty but no one wants this work. So I had to take on a bigger and taller guy but I’m used to that. Skills are what wins fights so I was good with it.”
One fighter that Farmer is thinking about is contender Gervontae Davis. Davis has been rumored to be facing Farmer’s stablemate Jason Sosa for the WBA title.
“I would love that fight but honestly he would be a step backwards for me at this point. He’s in a good position with Floyd Mayweather and he should appreciate it. They are quietly slowing him down because they know he’s not ready. We have had our share of back and forth on social media but the ball is in his court. Sometimes the fans get fooled. A fight between us is simple to make all he has to do is tell Floyd he wants it. Floyd is the most powerful man in the sport. He could get the fight done easy. Davis came to Philly and asked to spar me. That showed me all I needed to know about Gervontae Davis. Why would we spar for free when we can get paid to fight? He doesn’t want to fight me and it’s time to move on.”
Farmer is coming home to on October 14 to fight Orlando Rizo at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Farmer is not looking past Rizo, but the 26 year-old native of Philadelphia is looking for the fighters between 126 and 135 pounds.
“Ivan Redkach is being handled by Leo Santa Cruz’s people. I’m glad they took the fight but they don’t seem to think much of me. So how about this…. They should let Leo use me as a tune up and comeback fight. He keeps saying he wants to fight Gary Russell. Well use me as a tune up to get ready for Russell. I will take the fight at 126, look how easy I am to negotiate with. Now let’s see if they bite on that. If not Leo my goal is win a world title at 130. So anyone ranked at 130 I’m willing to fight, it doesn’t matter who it is. But I am willing to go up or down for the right opportunities.”
Farmer is promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
Chris Eubank Jr. Vacates British Middleweight Title
Chris Eubank Jr. suffered a severe injury sparring against a 14 stone opponent two days ago. The injury was assessed and confirmed by a Doctor on Friday 16th September, who works with the British Boxing Board of Control. The unforeseeable future puts us in a position where we have to allow the remaining contenders the ability to earn a living and, more importantly, prevent the promoter incurring any further costs before a press conference takes place as they had reminded the Eubank Management team that this was the highest purse bid they had secured.
Eubank Jnr’s management team have advised that, in their opinion, there has not been a fighter in the history of British Boxing who has had such a vast chasm of fighting prowess between him and the contenders for the British Championship in ability, speed, strength, accuracy and skill since its inauguration by the Marquess of Queensbury in the 1800’s.
So vast, in fact, that when winning the challenge for British Championship, Chris Eubank Snr had to advise him to leave his opponent’s head alone as he was taking far too much punishment and the referee didn’t see what was clear to the former world champion.
Chris Eubank Jnr was advised to go to the body because of his father’s past participation in the great game. If you can disrupt your opponent’s breathing, you can effectively stop him quicker than to the head. There is strategic and tactical knowledge in the advice as well as compassion because the body can recover where the head does not always recover.
The opponent was subsequently put into an induced coma as a result of the punishment he was made to sustain.
It is now with relief, as it has become clear to Chris Eubank Jnr’s management over these past few months how much danger the health and lives of these contenders are in, therefore the relinquishing of the British Championship due to injury sustained in a sparring session is perhaps a blessing in disguise.
The severe injury to Chris Jnr’s elbow follows an ongoing injury which has been a recurring issue for the last 18 months. This allows Chris Eubank Jnr, and his management, the opportunity to relinquish the title which provides all contenders the right to earn a living and fight amongst their equal calibre of competitors.
As much as we love the tradition of the British Championship we will be forward thinking and be protective of our competition as the risk to them is real. This is seen as a positive move forward in Chris Eubank Jnr’s career.
The former world champion, Chris Eubank Snr has hospitalised men and has himself been hospitalised, and is therefore cognisant of what those outside of the ring are not.
Chris Eubank Jnr’s management team will use the injury as an opportunity to step aside and fight high calibre world competition in the coming future. Details of a press conference will follow.
Jesus Rojas and Marvin Cabrera Signs with Golden Boy Promotions
Two of the most exciting fighters to emerge from Puerto Rico and Mexico, featherweight standout Jesus Rojas, of Caguas, Puerto Rico and former amateur boxing star Marvin Cabrera of Mexico City, will join Golden Boy Promotions, the Los Angeles-based promoter announced today.
Jesus Rojas (23-1-2, 16 KOs), is scheduled to fight this Saturday, September 17 for the vacant WBA Fedecaribe Featherweight title against the tough Jesus “Chuito” Valdez (16-1-1, 6 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round fight at the Coliseo Hector Sola Bezarez in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The 23-year-old Cabrera, who is scheduled to make his professional debut on the October 7 edition of LA FIGHT CLUB, will compete in the super lightweight division and is trained and managed by former two-division world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon.
“Jesus Rojas and Marvin Cabrera are a pair of young men we’ve been watching, and now that they are in a place to transition, we are honored to be able to work with them and help bring them to the top of the sport,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Rojas and Cabrera have all the tools to become a world champions, and in addition, they both have a rare star quality that will excite all Puerto Rican and Mexican fans in the United States and around the world.”
“I am excited to be representing Golden Boy Promotions and I am going to give it my all to get that world title,” said Jesus Rojas. “I promised my father I wouldn’t quit and although he is no longer with us, it is a promise that I will keep. I know that there will be challenges ahead, but at this point in my career, I can only think of the excitement and great things to come. I want to take care of my family and not only that, do what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a ten year old boy fighting in the streets of my Puerto Rican neighborhood.”
“I’ve worked with Jesus Rojas since 2014, when I saw him demolish his opponent, Juan Jose Beltran via knockout,” said Javier Bustillo, Manager of Jesus Rojas. I had heard rumors of the great talent that was before me, and from the moment I started working together, I knew we struck gold. I haven’t worked with a fighter that demonstrates the amount of talent like Rojas does. Signing with Golden Boy Promotions is a dream, not just because the opportunities that will be open because of this partnership but because Rojas is going to be exposed to a whole new fan base and a whole new world of boxers who he can ravage through. He is like a gladiator in the ring, tough, a prowler, powerful, and unafraid to step up into the plate. With 23 wins, and more than half of those being knock outs – I couldn’t think of a better fighter at 126 pounds that deserves a chance to show the world what Caguas, Puerto Rico has to offer.”
“In Mexico, Golden Boy is a big company and everyone aspires to have an opportunity like this,” said Marvin Cabrera. “My dream is to become a world champion, and I think that with Golden Boy by my side, I will be able to achieve my goal. I want to thank all my fans in Mexico for all their support throughout my amateur career and I hope to keep making them proud as a professional boxer.”
Andre Ward Hosts Meet and Greet
This Friday September 16, 2016 Shoe Palace was proud to host Undefeated World Champion, SP and Jordan Brand Ambassador Andre Ward for a meet and greet at The Parks at Arlington Shoe Palace Store in Arlington, TX. Andre was autographing his top selling Jordan Brand collection which was featured throughout the store.
Robert Guerrero Hosts First Annual Amateur Fight Night
This Saturday, September 17, 2016, the first annual Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero Fight Night amateur boxing event will take place at the Galt Hight School Warrior Gym in Galt, Calif. Thirty separate bouts with fighters from California and Nevada will compete. A “Be The Match” bone marrow drive will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
“This will be a great event for amateur fighters of all ages,” said Robert Guerrero. “I remember when I was a kid competing in events like this, all I could think about was winning a trophy of some kind. So I’m happy to announce that first and second place participants will receive an award. In addition, I’m going to do my part to help save lives by registering people into the bone marrow registry. BeTheMatch.org will be there to support the cause.”
Tickets priced at $20 will be available at the door. All proceeds will go to help fund the Guerrero’s Boxing Gym program. Weigh-ins are from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. First fight starts 1:00 p.m