Michael Conlan celebrates winning in Belfast.
Homecoming King

Big night for home hero Conlan as brilliant Belfast win moves him closer to world title shot

The Belfast man went 12-0 after stopping Diego Alberto Ruiz at a sold-out Falls Park.

IT WAS A night to remember in Belfast for Michael Conlan as the home hero turned on the style to produce a knockout win in front of a sold-out Falls Park crowd.

The 27-year old moved his unbeaten record to 12-0 after a ninth-round stoppage win over Argentinian veteran Diego Alberto Ruiz in front of 10,000 fans in the outdoor arena.

Headlining a Top Rank and MTK Global bill at Belfast’s Féile an Phobail, Conlan was defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt and picked up the WBA equivalent in the process; moving ever closer to a world title shot.

It was the former amateur world champion’s second homecoming as a professional, and one which was definitely a particularly special occasion. 

Michael Conlan in action against Diego Alberto Ruiz Action from the bout. Jonathan Porter / INPHO Jonathan Porter / INPHO / INPHO

Afterwards, Conlan dedicated his win to late Limerick boxer Kevin Sheehy, whose daughter was born yesterday. He also wore a tribute to Sheehy, whose favourite boxer was Conlan himself.

The 10-round featherweight clash saw Conlan get on top just as Ruiz (21-2, 10 KOs) – a replacement for Conlan’s Rio 2016 nemesis Vladimir Nikitin, who withdrew through injury — looked set to go the distance, after the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist dominated at early doors. 

The Belfast man turned up the heat and eventually wore out his opponent with a combination of powerful body shots, one of which knocked him down and then forced a corner stoppage.

 ”I am a very adaptable fighter,” Conlan told Top Rank afterwards. “I can box, and I can push the pace. In the end, I got the finish, so I’m happy that I figured it out. I worked it out and answered questions of myself. When he was hurt, I got the finish.

Before the fight, I was really nervous, I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t even acting like I wasn’t nervous. I was just myself. I was nervous today. I didn’t know what to expect. When I started my ring walk, that’s the stuff I live for. 

“[The atmosphere] didn’t scare me as much as I thought it would. The first two songs were unbelievable, and when the Red Hot Chili Peppers [“Can't Stop”] kicked in for my ring walk, I said to myself, ‘This is the reason I picked that song.’

“I’m prouder that I got the finish. I can box people and I want longevity in my career, but to get the finish was extra special, and I’m really happy I did.

I’m ready for a world title soon. This time next year, I want to have a world title around my waist.
Afterwards Bob Arum said that he’d like to make a Conlan-Carl Frampton fight happen:

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for Paddy Gallagher, who controversially lost his British and Commonwealth title fight against Chris Jenkins.

After reigning champion and Welshman Jenkins began to pull clear, Gallagher sent him to the canvas with a sixth-round body shot. With momentum back on his side, the bout was then stopped in the ninth round due to cuts above Jenkins’ eyes; and the referee deemed them to be sustained due to “unintentional fouls”.

Jenkins was awarded the victory on the judges’ cards.

Meanwhile, Paddy Barnes scored a decision win (60-55) over Joel Sanchez as the Olympic medallist landed a much-needed victory.

Luke Keeler celebrates winning Luke Keeler was also victorious. Jonathan Porter / INPHO Jonathan Porter / INPHO / INPHO

Dublin’s Luke Keeler beat American Luis Arias on points after scoring three knockdowns in an extremely close fight with so many chapters. It comes as a massive step forward with a world title shot in his sights.

Belfast natives Padraig McCrory and Sean McComb also sealed wins on the undercard.

McCrory captured the BUI Celtic super-middleweight belt with a stunning final round stoppage of Steve Collins Jr, while McComb brought his professional record to 8-0 against Renald Garrido.

Results in full

  • Michael Conlan beat Diego Alberto Ruiz: TKO ninth round
  • Chris Jenkins beat Paddy Gallagher: PTS 86-85 (Stopped due to cut on Jenkins’ left eye)
  • 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

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