Tag Archives: Conlan

Boxing Insider European Notebook: Conlan Stops Ruiz, Jenkins Victorious


By: Oliver McManus

Many a year has gone by without too much happening, in the boxing sense, throughout the month of August but the dry month has seen mouths unusually salivated by the prospect of Sergey Kovalev vs Anthony Yarde. There’s a full support act scattered across the breadth of the month and that all began on Saturday night (August 3rd) with a simply sensational celebration if Irish boxing and community.


InFEILEable Conlan stops Ruiz

The silkily talented Michael Conlan fought on home turf, Belfast, for just the second time of his career and characteristically left a rapturous crowd wanting more. The local hero, with four murals dotted around the city, transformed Falls Park into one of the most breathtaking boxing venues of recent memory and THE prospect from Ireland was never going to disappoint under such circumstances.

His opponent, Diego Alberto Ruiz, had flown in from Argentina boasting a career record largely spanning bantam and super bantamweight: this only his second contest at 126lbs. Ruiz, truth be told, didn’t present much for Conlan to work with but you’d be short-changed to suggest he was underwhelming as he boxed, essentially, as video footage suggested. Perhaps Conlan could have started to relax and unfurl more adventurous shots earlier on in the contest but it made no difference with the 27 year old continually in control.

When the stoppage did come about, in the ninth round, there could be no complaints with a short flurry of shots enough to convince Michael Alexander to stop the contest. A measured performance from Top Rank fighter that split opinion ringside on the BT Sport broadcast but kept fans happy. It wasn’t a faultless boxing display but it’s unrealistic to expect that all the time Conlan is being forced to search for angles and opportunities against negative opponents. It was, however, a good account of his natural ability and his progression in the last 18 months under Adam Booth.

Bob Arum suggested, speaking after the fight, we could see Conlan fighting a former world title challenger in his next outing and, at featherweight, there are plenty to choose from; Oscar Escandon has been used against other prospects (Tug Nyambayar and Brandon Figueroa) whilst Kiko Martinez is a good gatekeeper to the top 15.

And Still, And The New, Jenkins packs away the belts

Swansea’s Chris Jenkins will have to make space in his hand luggage for two extra items this coming week, when he jets off on a family holiday to Spain, having returned home with the British (retained) and Commonwealth welterweight titles (claimed). He fought Paddy Gallagher on Saturday night as the main support act to Michael Conlan’s bout. For the most part Jenkins looked to be in control of the contest as he deployed similar tactics to his fight against Johnny Garton in March. He had made the smoother start and was light on his feet to stay out of range of Gallagher’s more spiteful shots; the only thing missing, in comparison to March, was a peppery overhand right. The notoriously fragile skin of the Champion began to cause havoc as two cuts opened up over the eyes- ‘what’s new?’, rightfully quipped Gary Lockett. The fight, which seemed to be going in Jenkins’ favour, was thrown a slight curveball when Jenkins was dropped due to a wincing body blow in the sixth round to tighten things up on the cards.

Ultimately the fight was stopped halfway through the ninth round with the ringside doctor deeming Chris Jenkins’ cuts – officially caused by a clash of heads – too bad to continue and the fight went to the scorecards. All three judges had it 86-85, the slimmest of margins, to the Welshman who added the Commonwealth strap to his Lord Lonsdale belt. Cries for the rematch were immediate but that will have to wait until after a mandatory defence against Liam Taylor.

I will say this, though, Chris Jenkins and Paddy Gallagher are two of the nicest guys in boxing so I shan’t get het up in the whys and wherefores of the decision. Both men fought hard and should, if the sport is fair, be rewarded with deserved opportunities.


By Royal Appointment

Having been heralded as an all-round success back in March, boxing doesn’t have to wait too long for its next outing at Royal Albert Hall. Frank Warren brings the show back into Kensington on September 27th with Daniel Dubois headlining the show.

Dubois, 12-0, looked flawless as he stopped Nathan Gorman last month to win the vacant British heavyweight title and he vies for another belt, the vacant Commonwealth title, as he faces Ebenezer Tetteh from Ghana. Tetteh is best known for being the former WBO Africa title, a belt he won in December 2017 against Boniface Kabore and has built an unbeaten record of 19-0 exclusively out of his home country. Only two of his fights are available on YouTube, in which he looks particularly raw technically, but the hope will be that he is as game as his Richard Lartey – his countryman who Dubois fought earlier in the year.

Of course the fight is a step down in comparison to Gorman but realistically it was always going to be hard to fight an immediate defence of the British title without it being so; David Price, Hughie Fury and Dave Allen are all signed up with Matchroom and going in different directions and then you’ve got Tom Little, who Dubois has beaten already, and the likes of Kamil Sokolowki and Alex Dickinson.

Nicola Adams ‘defends’ her WBO flyweight title on the show and the word ‘defend’ seems rather crude in this fashion given Adams was elevated from interim champion just a few days ago. That is through no fault of her own given she was meant to fight for the full title back in March but the champion pulled out and subsequently, we believe, declined to defend the belt against Adams.

The ‘tentative’ fight being arranged for Adams is to unify her title with that of the IBF – a belt that will be contested by Leonela Paola Yudica and Isabel Millan (a former Adams opponent) on August 16th. Assuming there are no injuries or cuts, the winner will face the Lioness from Leeds in a welcome move to fast-track her career – especially given the British double Olympic champion is now 36.

Indeed after doubts emerged as to whether we would see Adams in the ring again it is a pleasant announcement that she will take part in the first ever female boxing contest at the Royal Albert Hall. Having carved a new path for female fighters in the amateur game it will be good to see if that success can transfer to the paid ranks. Further additions to the card will be made in due course.

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ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Conlan vs. Ruiz


By: Oliver McManus

Saturday night sees boxing return to Falls Park for only the second time ever with Michael Conlan the man responsible for bringing verve back to the unique venue. Belfast’s featherweight has become more accustomed to soaking New York arenas in Irish emerald since turning professional but August 3rd will be his third fight in the UK in just over a year.

The event was announced back in May with Conlan set to seek redemption against, his Rio Olympics adversary, Vladmir Nikitn but the Russian was forced to withdraw towards the back end of June. With that pull-out seems to be an end to the once embittered rivalry between the two with Conlan (11-0) looking to pull ahead of his Top Rank stablemate (who has had just three professional fights). In stepped Diego Alberto Ruiz, 21-2, on around about five weeks notice and the Argentine can be expected to pose some wiley questions of Conlan.

Ruiz has spent most of his career in the stairwell of the South American bantamweight division – having been WBC Latino and Argentinian champion at that weight – but gained similar levels of success at super bantamweight over the course of 2018. The move to featherweight is a relatively fresh one with the 25 year old only having one previous contest at the weight: a 10 rounder in June in which he looked cagey against Luis Emanuel Cusolito.

From the available footage of his fights he has shown a reluctance to adapt to the style of his opponent and often seeks to fight in a cat and mouse style; frequently playing possum with a tight guard, left hand firmly against the ear, to try and land some counter attacks. That game plan worked particularly well against Diego Pichardo in the middle portions of their contests but likely not against his upcoming opponent.

Conlan, now a professional for two and a half years, is at the point where he can really think about pushing forward and searching for world level fights. Since making his debut, against Tim Ibarra, the Irishman has looked untouchable against his current calibre of opponents and has been in cruise control. He has gone on record as saying he prefers to fight in the face of someone looking to apply pressure and it’s unfortunate that his opponents have shrunk into themselves upon the start of the fight.

Against Ruiz you imagine that Conlan will have to do much of the busy work and look to force openings against an opponent happy to wait it out round after round. The patience and restrain that Conlan has shown in dealing with such tasks hopefully will go out of the window with an eye catching performance in front of an electric home crowd. We know Conlan is good but a reminder never hurts and what better occasion than Saturday night to go footloose and fancy free?

The co-main event sees Chris Jenkins defend his British welterweight title against Paddy Gallagher; the vacant Commonwealth strap is also at stake. Jenkins, born in Swansea, claimed the title with a silky out-pointing and out-classing of Johnny Garton in March but has been out of action since due to a slight hand injury. Gallagher, meanwhile, was meant to face Gary Corcoran in an eliminator last June before cracking his jaw. The Belfast welterweight has subsequently been in action on four occasions with wins against Jay Byrne, Fernando Valencia and Liam Wells and a sole loss to Freddy Kiwitt.

Since stepping up from super lightweight, where he had fought for six years, Jenkins has found a new lease of life at welterweight with the additional seven pounds proving to be, ironically, a weight off his shoulders. The contest against Garton saw a particular penchant for a peppering overhand right that repeatedly caught the defending Champion off guard. He fought to a smooth game plan in a contest that many expected to turn into a fire-fight but ended up being a methodical victory for the Welshman.

His challenger will be in a similar situation to that of Jenkins on March 8th with a clear understanding that this, realistically, might be his last opportunity to fight for the British title. The 30 year old has shown himself capable of fighting to a controlled tempo throughout a contest but has produced a killer instinct in his fights as of late. Against Liam Wells there was a gulf in class between the two men and Gallagher was eager to put the contest to bed in emphatic fashion. The only blip in the last twelve months came against Kiwitt in which Gallagher hit the canvas on two occasions – knockdowns that proved to be the deciding factor in the contest.

A fight between two of the nicest guys in British boxing for the nicest belt in all of boxing – it should be a cracker.

Of course the focus, rightly, will be on the man of the moment in Belfast boxing – nicknamed ‘Four Murals Conlan’ by Sean McComb, who also fights on the undercard – Michael Conlan as he brings the twelfth stage of The Conlan Revolution to Falls Park for a wonderfully unique boxing event. Watch it all exclusively live on ESPN+ in the United States and BT Sport in the United Kingdom.

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Michael Conlan: “I Wanted The Toughest Fighter We Could Get”


By: Sean Crose

“Having Diego Alberto Ruiz step in for Vladimir Nikitin didn’t really change how I approach the fight,” says rising featherweight, and Olympic Bronze medalist, Michael Conlan. “I suspect Ruiz will come forward but maybe not as aggressively as Nikitin was going to.” Conlan is referring to his fight this Saturday against the 21-2 Diego Alberto Ruiz, a scheduled 10 rounder that will go down at Falls Park in Belfast. Conlan was originally supposed to face Vladimir Nitkin, who bested Conlan via a highly controversial – some would argue outrageous – decision at the Olympics. Nitkin suffered an injury, however, and was forced to step out of the fight.

“For me,” Conlan continues, “I wanted the toughest fighter we could get after Nikitin fell out, and that’s what I told Top Rank and MTK Global. Every fight to me is important, but I wanted to make sure the August 3 fight in West Belfast was going to entertain the huge crowd.” As the match will be going down in Conlan’s home town, in front of a reported 10,000 fans no less – there was real reason to want the competition for the Irishman to be solid.

Though the outspoken Conlan clearly loves drawing in crowds, and attention, the undefeated fighter clearly isn’t someone starved to adulation. “I’m a humble person,” he says. “There’s a lot of chatter coming from different fighters, some who are in a similar place as me in their careers and it’s getting a bit much, especially on social media. I prefer to let my performances speak for themselves.” This may seem strange for a man who first made himself known by flicking the bird in the middle of an Olympic boxing ring. That moment aside, however, Conlan is a different breed than some of the sport’s showier figures. It’s clearly something he wants the world to know.

Still, Conlan is considered a lucrative property and is therefore being managed carefully. Aside from the hometown bout this weekend, Conlan plans on returning to New York, where he made his professional debut to much fanfare on Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, 2017. “I plan to fight again on St. Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden next year,” he says. “It’s my favorite arena, and I love the atmosphere inside the arena and in New York City during fight week.” So enthralled is Conlan with the famed MSG, that he hopes to fight for a title there – and sooner rather than later.

“I could see a title fight against {IBF featherweight world champion} Josh Warrington coming to fruition within 12 months,” he says. “It would be big anywhere in the UK or Ireland, but I’d love to have my first world championship fight at Madison Square Garden.” First, though, Conlan has to get past Ruiz. Not only has the 25 year old Argentine won ten in a row, his second (and final) loss came way back in 2016 – ages ago by boxing’s fast moving standards. Not that Conlan is worried.

“We’re truly working on getting better each camp and every day,” he says, “so that when the time comes to fight for a world title, I’ll be ready.”

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ESPN+ Boxing Results: Conlan Dominates Hernandez in Paddy’s Day Celebration


By: Ste Rowen

With a familiar feeling of magic in the air from two years ago when he performed in the same theatre on St Patricks Day, Irishman, Mick Conlan scored a whitewash 10-round decision over hopeful challenger, Ruben Garcia Hernandez and although he might not have been able to give the worshipping crowd the KO they craved Conlan, now 11-0 (6KOs), seemed more than happy speaking post-fight,

‘‘Ireland is in New York tonight and Ireland fucking runs New York…I just used my skills as I said I would.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

He had a tough head on them. There were a few times I probably could’ve stepped on it, but we wanted to practice things we’ve been working on. I felt I did that tonight.’’

Conlan, who now fights at featherweight, a weight class up from where he started as a pro, was in charge from the outset.

His display of attributes keeping most of the fans happy throughout the 10-rounds. Hernandez, 24-3-2, looked out of his depth at times; Mick was too fast, too slick, too much destined to not let anything spoil his night tonight.
Onlookers could tell how much Mick was enjoying himself as he consistently switched from southpaw to orthodox, further bamboozling his Mexican foe.

Ruben’s only brief success felt like a minor inconvenience for the 27-year-old amateur standout to deal with and all three judge’s scorecards read 100-90 for the Irishman, but Conlan was eager to aim for bigger challenges after tonight’s celebration, mainly calling out the man who defeated him in the controversial 2016 Olympics, Vladimir Nikitin,

‘‘Vladimir, I know you’re here tonight. We need to do it again for the fans. I need to write a wrong that shouldn’t have been written.’’

Whatever’s next for Mick, fans can be assured it’ll be engrossing in the ring, and rowdy outside of it.

On the undercard…

Luis Collazo attempted to reintroduce himself to the world welterweight scene with a close split decision victory over Samuel Vargas over 10 rounds. The New York southpaw sustained a cut to his left eye during proceedings, but it didn’t stop him from being able to move well when Colombian, Vargas came charging in.
At 37-years-old and now 39-7 (20KOs), Luis looked the much sharper man as the fight went on, laying the more eye-catching combinations, and though he didn’t look as agile as he used to back in his world champion days, was able to measured when Samuel had some success.
The final scorecards read as, 96-94 98-92 for Collazo, 94-96 for Vargas. Luis the victor was confident of the future ahead post-fight,

‘‘I want to be a world champion again. I still got the desire. I still got the fire. And I would like to fight the top guys in the welterweight division. They know who they are. I called them out before. It just hasn’t happened.’’

In his USA debut and 7th fight as a pro, Paddy Barnes fell to his second consecutive defeat after being dropped en route to a split decision loss to super-flyweight gatekeeper, Oscar Mojica.

Barnes’ frequent flurry of punches weren’t enough to trouble Mojica in the early rounds and the American put the Irishman down with a wonderful body shot in the second. Pale Paddy’s quickfire combinations looked good but did nothing to deter the bigger man from throwing heavy handed shots; one after the other.

By the end of the 3rd, Barnes’ face resembled a man who wanted out of there ASAP.

Weighing in 7lbs heavier than his most recent bout, a world title loss to Cristofer Rosales, Paddy was seriously struggling to find any kind of rhythm, although the final round was certainly his best as Mojica took a backseat. Both fighters made it to the final bell, and Oscar Mojica, determined in his capacity to get the upset, achieved his goal.

The final scorecards were, 56-58 to Barnes, and 58-56 (x2) for Mojica, to improve the American’s record to 12-5-1 (1KO).


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Josue Vargas entered the ring in an emerald top hat to match the night and the Irish luck rubbed off on Vargas who dominated 8 rounds of fighting in his 14th pro bout.

Vargas looked the noticeably bigger man in the ring with Adriano Ramirez, and it suited him well to rule behind his jab for the first two rounds, but, Ramirez made him suffer in the third.

But Josue, fighting out of the southpaw stance, kept Adriano at bay. When he threw his dominant jab, it was left to fans to wonder where the rest of Josue’s attack was. With only the scheduled 8 rounds to fight in, Vargas was taking a little bit of a risk by stepping off his attack so much.

The fight entered the 8th and final round and it was left to Ramirez, 10-2 (6KOs) heading into tonight to take the bout by the horns. He was unable to, and Vargas remained sufficiently dominant to see the fight out on top. The final scorecards came out as, 80-72 all for Josue Vargas of New York.

Vargas improves his record to 13-1 (8KOs).

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ESPN+ Boxing Preview: New York’s Favorite Irish Son Returns


By: Ste Rowen

Two years ago Mick Conlan drenched the Madison Square Garden Theater in an emerald wave when the Irishman headlined a New York event in his debut fight, to coincide with a freezing St Paddy’s day in the Big Apple.

That night, Conlan, currently 10-0 (6KOs) made easy work of Tim Ibarra inside three rounds and has since moved up a division to featherweight. Almost twenty-four months on, Conlan will, with help from fellow Irish favourite and Commonwealth gold medallist Paddy Barnes, once again make St Patrick’s day greener in New York than it would’ve been without him.

“I’m dealing with the expectation well. It’s prize fighting and I’m not in this game to earn buttons.’’ Conlan told the Guardian.

Chosen to spoil the show this Paddy’s Day is Ruben Garcia Hernandez, a 24-3-2 (10KOs) Mexican.

Ruben’s resume includes a loss to Nonito Donaire in 2017, unfortunately that inclusion is an exception to the rule. Ruben has never beaten or, other than the Filipino legend, faced anyone of note.

It’s a bad opponent for a boxer that comes with so much hype, but as long as Mick deals with Hernandez as well as, if not better, than he did Ibarra in 2017, the Irish-faithful will be more than jubilant.

Also on this weekend’s New York card is southpaw, welterweight gatekeeper, Luis Collazo, who takes on fellow keeper of the welterweight gate, Samuel Vargas.

Until the April bout between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan was announced, Collazo was feted to take on the much feared, WBO 147lb champion. But it wasn’t to be for Luis who claims he was more than ready for the juggernaut that is Crawford.

Instead this Sunday, Luis will step between the ropes with Samuel Vargas, who’s looking to regain a respectable ranking at 147lb.

‘‘This is my purpose. To be able to go out there and perform and to be able to try to inspire those who are kind of down on their life and just be able to do what I love and keep spreading inspiration.’’ Collazo, who’s pro record currently sits at 38-7 (20KOs), told ESPN, ‘‘There’s been some ups and downs, but this is the difference between passion and purpose.’’

Collazo is undefeated since his unanimous decision loss to Keith Thurman; unfortunately Luis has only fought twice in that time. A sixth round KO of Sammy Vazquez in 2017 and a mid-2018 decision over Florida native, Bryant Perrella – who recently scored a UD victory over Briedis Prescott
Vargas, 30-4-2 (14KOs), rebounded from his August decision loss to Amir Khan, with a dominant win over 27-0, Gabriel Pereiro. However, much like Collazo’s most recent opposition, 40-year-old Pereiro had never fought an opponent of note, or even professionally took a fight outside of his homeland of Argentina.

On the face of it, Collazo vs. Vargas looks more like two older welters putting it on the line for one last hopeful attempt at a world title shot, but it could turn into the best fight of Sunday’s undercard.

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Michael Conlon and Luis Collazo – A Tale Of Two Fighters


By: Sean Crose

When Michael “Mick” Conlon made his professional boxing debut on Saint Patrick’s Day, 2017, it caused quite the to do. Not only had the popular Irish armature been a top find for Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions, but Conlon was walked into the ring at Madison Square Garden that night by none other than fellow Irishman Conor McGregor, the enormously popular MMA star who was determined to meet and beat Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring (he ended up achieving half his goals). The evening, however, was arguably dominated by McGregor, who, true to form, made it all about himself by screaming at ESPNs Dan Rafael.

Conlon, who won his debut that night, went on to fight again at Madison Square Garden the following Saint Patrick’s Day (sans McGregor). Now, with an undefeated 10-0 record, the featherweight will be fighting at the Garden this coming Saint Patrick’s day, as well. There’s little doubt that yearly appearances at the Garden during the world’s most famous Irish holiday are now to be expected. Not that Conlon minds, as Top Rank continues to build on his European and east coast fan base. This year, Conlon will find himself facing the 24-3-2 Ruben Garcia Hernandez of Mexico. Although he hasn’t met any big names while in the pro ranks, the active Conlon has been quite busy building his resume, as well as public awareness.

Yet Conlon isn’t the only name fighter to be plying his trade this weekend. For the 38-7 Luis Collazo will also appear on the Garden card. While Conlon is a fighter on the rise, New York’s Collazo has faced a who’s who of name fighters over the years. Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz, Amir Khan, Keith Thurman…all of these men have shared a ring with the 37 year old welterweight. Unlike Conlon, Collazo has also held a major world title, having been in possession of the WBA welterweight strap from 2005-2006. On Sunday, Collazo will be facing the 30-4-2 Samuel Vargas. An experienced vet, Collazo has shown he can be full of surprises.

In 2014, he demolished Victor Ortiz at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Then, in 2015, he landed a thunderous body shot while fighting Keith Thurman in Tampa, one that clearly hurt the popular Floridian (though Thurman went on to win the fight). The Madison Square Garden Saint Patrick’s Day card will be streamed live this Sunday, starting at 3 PM, EST on the ESPN+ Streaming Service.

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Michael Conlan Grateful For Year-End UK Showcase


By Jake Donovan

The next ring appearance for Michael Conlan represents the best of both worlds: getting in one last fight in 2018 just before the holiday season and returning to a country where he boasts his greatest boxing achievement to date.

As an added bonus, it comes on the undercard of a show where he could very well one day face the winner of the evening’s main event.

“That’s the thing being with Top Rank; they are the absolute best promoter in the game,” Conlan insisted to BoxingInsider.com of the manner in which his pro career has been handled thus far.

The 27-year old from Belfast, Northern Ireland gets to squeeze in a fifth fight in capping a productive 2018 in-ring campaign when he resurfaces this Saturday in Manchester, England. Conlan (9-0, 6KOs) will face domestic trialhorse Jason Cunningham in a scheduled-eight round featherweight bout on a bill where his countryman, Carl Frampton seeks to become a three-time titlist as he challenges unbeaten featherweight titlist Josh Warrington.

Both bouts will be part of a loaded show which will stream live on ESPN+.

“It was very smart of Top Rank to put me on the show,” notes Conlan, who was last seen in a 7th round stoppage of Nicola Cipolletta this past October in Las Vegas. “I love fighting in the United States, but this show is much closer to home (roughly one hour by plane from Belfast to Manchester), which is good for my fans over here who don’t have to worry about flying abroad just to see me live.”

Saturday will mark just the second time in his pro career that Conlan gets to play a venue more befitting his regional base. The lone other occasion came just six months ago, when he soundly outpointed Adeilson dos Santos this past June at home in Belfast.

To return to the UK, however, had to come with more meaning than just for the sake of fighting near home.

“I like fighting in the United States and am fine with a ratio maybe three in the states and then one at (or near) home,” Conlan admits. “This show is a really good one, though, and Top Rank recognized the benefit of my fighting on it. The fact that the main event is right in my weight division, I get a good look at who I can face in the future when I begin facing contenders and eventually challenge for a world title.”

Just two years into the pro ranks, Conlan isn’t quite yet within arm’s length of fighting for a title or even at the contender level. This is where show placement comes into play.

In Cunningham (24-5, 6KOs), he gets a durable southpaw capable of going rounds regardless of competition. The 29-year old from Doncaster has only been dropped twice and stopped just once in 29 pro contests.

For Conlan, it’s also his first look at a southpaw as a pro.

“The stance doesn’t matter to me, but it’s good to see all different styles rising through the ranks,” admits Conlan. “It’s all part of my development as I continue to work on my all-around game. My coach and I practice everything—boxing, short distance, long distance. Our goal is to be a master of all trades, instead of just one.”

The expanded skillset will certainly be a necessityin a loaded featherweight division, from the top level to contenders down to prospects on the rise. One in particular happens to be in Conlan’s promotional stable.

Top Rank signed the two-time Olympian around the same time they secured the services of 2016 Olympic Silver medalist Shakur Stevenson. Company founder and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum has ever shied away from the selling point of one day matching them together, once it can be built into a superfight.

There already exists built-in history. Both competed as bantamweights in the 2016 Rio Olympics and were on a direct path toward meeting in the medal round.

That’s when Conlan forever remained a fixture in the spotlights. Having already captured a Bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics for Ireland, a repeat was well within reach and seemed to have occurred following his quarterfinals meet with Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin (now also with Top Rank as a pro).

Most observers had Conlan winning by no smaller than a 2-1 rounds margin, but the ringside judges saw a very different fight. Nikitin was awarded a unanimous decision—losing just one round among the three official scorecards—with a dejected Conlan reduced to his infamously flipping off the judges before erupting in a profanity-laced post-fight tirade.

It wasn’t at all how he envisioned his decorated amateur career coming to a close, but in a way helped his profile upon turning pro. But while some can leave bad memories in the past, Conlan—unable to shake loose the wrongdoing—has instead chosen to own it.

“For me, Rio is remembered forever,” Conlan confesses. “No matter how hard I try, I can never get over it. At the same time, it’s a good thing if you think about it because it’s given me a great attitude towards professional boxing.

“It put me in a very good position from a media perspective. It’s great focus for where I want to be as a professional—never take any situation for granted. Just keep working hard and good things will continue to happen.”

While Rio still remains on the mind, his latest trip to the United Kingdom conjures up a different type of amateur boxing memoir.

“This is my first time fighting in England since London 2012 (Olympics),” Conlan fondly recalls of his Bronze medal run as a flyweight, losing to eventual Gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba. “It’s brought back some great memories, but I’m so much a different fighter today than I was back then.”

By this time next year, he hopes to not even recognize the fighter he is today.

“First thing is to take care of business with Jason on Saturday,” Conlan notes before turning his attention to 2019. “God willing I come out victorious and healthy, next year will be all about building towards the path that leads to contending for a title. In 12 months, hopefully we’re talking about fighting for a world title or taking a title eliminator.

“But me and my team just worry about the battle plan in the ring. I have the best promoter in the world behind me. Top Rank knows better than anyone else how to move a fighter, so we’re in no rush.”

For now, being at—or near home—is a good enough way to end the year.

“We knew turning pro that the majority of my fights would take place in the United States, and that’s great for my worldwide appeal,” Conlan notes. “But getting to occasionally comes home makes it feel like a big event. That’s a great thing. Fighting at home always is, but getting the big fight night treatment just makes it even more special.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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