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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 14 December, 2017

Jamie Conlan is saved from himself as he falls short in maiden world title tilt

He showed huge resolve in Belfast tonight.

Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Gavan Casey reports from the SSE Arena, Belfast

JAMIE CONLAN’S MAIDEN world title tilt was almost derailed before it got going.

Some six or seven seconds after receiving a sharp left hand to the body from Filipino champion Jerwin Ancajas early in the opening round, Conlan took to the canvas – the most tardy of delayed reactions – and beat his fists off the floor.

It’s become a trademark of sorts for the 31-year-old, whose career has been forged from turmoil, his name built on an innate ability to fight peel himself off the deck and brawl his way to victory.

Over the years, he’s learned to grin and bear it. He won’t be grinning tonight, but perhaps defeat might be more difficult to bear in the knowledge that he was bested by a genuinely world class operator in the Pinoy ‘Pretty Boy’, who retains his IBF World super-flyweight title.

Conlan touched down again in the fourth, Ancajas’ body work again paying dividends. Conlan rose again Christ-like to a deafening roar from his 9,000-strong hometown faithful, conspicuously hurt but utterly defiant.

He absorbed an umpteen-punch assault against the ropes to take it into the fourth.

And in the fourth he went down again. Once more, a body shot. Once more, the crowd rose to their feet and screeched. Once more, Conlan rose with with them – this time at the count of nine.

His resolve has always been quite extraordinary, but tonight, even in defeat, took the biscuit.

In the fifth, Conlan – bloodied, battered, and bruised – inexplicably started the sharper, landing a peach of an overhand right which made Ancajas think, at least, and made those in attendance break out into a chorus of ‘Olé Olé’.

Conlan continued with some stellar work but it was evident that his abdomen wouldn’t hold up to any more punishment.

Two low blows from the Filipino bought him some time, to absorb the raucous noise at his back as much as anything else. Again he met Ancajas at centre-ring, and again he made it into the next round – the sixth.

Moments after the bell sounded, Conlan was again felled, this for the last time, by a looping right hand that landed on the back of his head. It was borderline, but probably illegal.

Referee Steve Gray watched Conlan climb to his feet again and beat the count handily, but waved the fight off.

His intentions were clear and correct: protect Conlan from himself.

Lord knows how much further he would have gone, and how many times he might have clawed his way off the floor, but at this juncture it would have done him few favours.

A first career defeat sees Conlan’s record drop to 19-1, but his legend, in a way, continues.

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