by Chris Evans
Michael Conlan (12-0) extended his unbeaten run to 12 at a rocking Falls Park, Belfast on Saturday night, outclassing his opponent to lift the vacant WBA and WBO Intercontinetal featherweight titles.
The scene couldn’t have been set any better; a summers evening, an outdoor fight and 10,000 fight fans making it an incredible atmosphere. 27-year-old Conlan dominated the fight from start to finish taking every round until stopping Argentinian Diego Alberto Ruiz (21-0-3) in the ninth.
Entering the ring to the sound of 'Grace ' by the Wolf Tones, morphing into The Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'Can't Stop', the atmosphere was electric. One thing did come to mind, was that this was a big show to headline, pressure can affect people in many ways. Would Conlan rise to the occasion?
Well, Simply put, Yes he did rise to the occasion.
Conlan settled in straight away, looking sharp and levels above his opponent from the first bell.
Conlan took rounds two and three with Ruiz taking a very defensive approach. Round four and Conlan had a second warning for a low blow. In complete control Conlan started to work Ruiz’s body forcing Ruiz to throw more. Ruiz started to attack more in the fifth but Conlan continued to land the better shots switching between orthodox and southpaw causing Ruiz problems.
In the sixth, Conlan hit Ruiz on the back of the head prompting an angry response from Ruiz’s corner; Conlan perhaps lucky not to lose a point.
The seventh saw Conloan in cruise control, dominating the fight from the centre of the ring, landing at will on his oppoenent. In the eighth Conlan could sense the stoppage coming landing some big shots forcing Ruiz on to the ropes, luckily for Ruiz the bell sounds to end the round.
Ruiz looked deflated coming out for the ninth round, Conlan continued the attack dropping Ruiz with a right hand to the body, Ruiz bravely got back to his feet but Conlan piled on the pressure and the referee wisely called a hault to the contest.
An impressive performance from Conlan and with Top rank CEO and promoter Bob Arum, watching on at ringside enjoying the atmosphere there could be some big fight nights again soon in Belfast with possible world title fights with the likes of Josh Warrington and Leo Santa Cruz next year
"I know I am not the biggest puncher in the world but I have enough to make people respect me," said Conlan.
"I know I can beat anybody when I box but I know people get bored of that. I maybe should do it all the time because the less damage you take in the ring the more life you get in boxing, but I know these fans wanted the finish and I'm happy I gave the fans that. I'm ready for a world title soon. This time next year, I want to have a world title around my waist. I'll fight anyone - this is only the start.”
"I believe this is the first performance that I've performed at a certain level, but I've got more levels to go."
Other Results from the nights card:
Chris Jenkins beat Paddy Gallagher: PTS 86-85
Dennis McCann beat Georgi Andonov: TKO first round
Luke Keeler beat Luis Arias: PTS 96-91
Sean McComb beat Renald Garrido: PTS 79-73
Padraig McCrory beat Steve Collins Jnr: TKO eighth round
Paddy Barnes beat Joel Sanchez: PTS 60-55
Alfredo Meli beat Araik Marutjan: PTS 77-76
Callum Bradley beat Jose Hernandez: PTS 40-37
Sean Duffy beat Naheem Chaudhry: PTS 40-36
Mateusz Kubiszyn beat Damien Sullivan: TKO first round