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Dublin: 0 °C Wednesday 21 March, 2018

Conlan coasts to victory in the Garden to end first year as a pro undefeated

The Belfast featherweight defeated Luis Fernando Molina on the undercard of Lomachenko-Rigondeaux.

Image: Ricardo Guglielminotti/The Fighting Irish

MICHAEL CONLAN TOOK his professional record to 5-0 overnight with a dominant victory via the scorecards against Luis Fernando Molina at the Madison Square Garden Theater.

Conlan featured in the chief-support bout to Vasyl Lomachenko’s world super-featherweight triumph over Guillermo Rigondeaux in New York.

Returning to the scene of his paid debut last March, the 26-year-old Irishman recorded a 60-54 shutout on all three judges’ cards over 29-year-old Buenos Aires native Molina.

Delivering an impressive display of boxing skills, former world amateur champion Conlan switched from orthodox to southpaw with ease and looked comfortable throughout his first paid bout to last six rounds.

“I’m happy enough and I was happy to get the rounds,” said Conlan. “I thought I was going to get him out of there, but it wasn’t really unfortunate because I want to move up to eight rounds next time, so it was good to get the six in.

“I thought it was a nice and clean performance, I didn’t really take any shots… it was probably more like my style of fighting, on the back foot and slick boxing. I’m happy enough and looking forward to the next one.

“Sometimes I think I’m a better southpaw than orthodox! But I showed that I can switch it up and I can confuse opponents, so I think I did that tonight.

“I felt comfortable,” continued the Falls Road fighter. “I just needed to make sure I was getting ahead and I didn’t take any punishment or any shots that I shouldn’t be taking.

“It’s all a learning process at the end of the day and I need to keep learning to progress as a professional fighter. That’s six rounds in the bank now and we can move up to eight next and look forward to a big night on St Patrick’s night next year.”

Conlan — a two-time Olympian — revealed after the bout that his left hand was sore following his victory, but insisted that it would not impact on his training plans.

“It was just a bit of bruising around the knuckles,” he said. “It’s no problem. The guy had a tough head! I hurt him a few times, but he survived and fair play to him,” continued the Belfast native, who will return to Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s weekend in 2018.

“I’ll have three weeks off [over Christmas] maybe because I’ve been in camp all year and it’s been a fast, hard year. Five wins, four KOs – I’d have liked if it was five KOs, but unfortunately not! I’m happy anyway and looking forward to a big 2018.”

Last night’s Lomachenko-Rigondeaux undercard also included a fourth professional win for highly-touted American featherweight Shakur Stevenson.

The 20-year-old, a silver medallist at last summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, upgraded his pro ledger to 4-0 courtesy of a second-round TKO of Oscar Mendoza.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Monaghan native Aaron McKenna got his professional career off to a good start at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

McKenna, the youngest fighter on Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions roster and Ireland’s youngest pro boxer, saw off Travis Conley via unanimous scores of 40-36.

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