Stylish Conlan impresses in Garden show

Belfast featherweight Michael Conlan defeated Argentina’s Luis Fernando Molina over six rounds in the chief support bout to Vasyl Lomachenko’s world super-featherweight title win over Guillermo Rigondeaux at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Stylish Conlan impresses in Garden show

Returning to the scene of his paid debut last March, the 26-year-old recorded a 60-54 shutout on all three judges’ cards to boost his pro record to 5-0 following a dominant points victory.

Delivering an impressive display of boxing skills, former world amateur champion Conlan switched from orthodox to southpaw with ease.

“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 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’ll have three weeks off [over Christmas] maybe ecause I’ve been in camp all year and it’s been a fast, hard year,” said Conlan.

“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.”

Vasyl Lomachenko retained his title with a sixth round technical knockout of Rigondeaux, the impressive Ukrainian handing the Cuban-born American his first professional defeat.

The highly-anticipated duel between a pair of double Olympic champions resulted in an anti-climatic finish, however, when Rigondeaux, citing a hand and wrist injury, told the referee that he did not want to continue prior to the seventh round.

All three judges had Rigondeaux, who moved up two weight divisions for the bout, behind when he quit in front of a disappointed Madison Square Garden crowd, making it the fourth consecutive Lomachenko fight in which his opponent has retired.

Lomachenko, the 29-year-old heavy pre-fight favourite, defended his title for a fourth time and improved his career record to 10-1 (eight TKOs), including seven knockouts.

The 37-year-old Rigondeaux (17-1), who was warned by the referee several times for foul play, began telling his trainer after the third round that his left hand and wrist hurt.

“This is not his weight so it’s not a big win for me,” Lomachenko, who won gold medals at the Beijing and London Olympics, told reporters. “But he’s a good fighter, he’s got great skills. I adjusted to his style, low blows and all.”

Meanwhile Irish heavyweight Sean “Big Sexy” Turner is in line for a European title shot after a sensational inside-the-distance win in Switzerland on Saturday night. The Dubliner KO’d Kosovar Arnold Gjergjaj, whose only defeat in 31 previous fights was to ex-world champion David Haye, in the eighth and final round in Basel.

Turner, who had Katie Taylor’s dad and ex-coach, Pete Taylor, working his corner, also floored Gjergjaj earlier in the bout en route to improving to 12 wins from 13 outings.

Monaghan teenager Aaron McKenna, who is signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy stable, beat Travis Conley on his pro debut in Las Vegas on Saturday.

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