Michael Conlan registered his second stoppage in as many professional contests with a TKO3 of Tijuana journeyman Alfredo Chanez in Chicago.
The 4,000 or so fans who braved the Windy City monsoon witnessed less a Mexican standoff, more a Mexican stand-up special, as Chanez's irksome gamesmanship frequently curbed Conlan's momentum during a complete mismatch at the UCI Pavillion.
To various choruses of the usual Irish anthems, the former two-time Olympian and world amateur champion from Belfast was conspicuously keen not to force his work early, and his patience paid off with aplomb towards the end of the opening stanza as he planted Chanez on the seat of his Mexican flag-styled trunks with a sumptuous right uppercut – the first knockdown Conlan has scored as a pro.
Having gamely beaten the count in spite of jelly legs which pleaded to the contrary, Chanez withstood the subsequent barrage against the ropes – and the first round – before Conlan reconvened with renowned trainer Manny Robles in the corner.
The Falls Road fighter lost some of his rhythm in the second when he felled his foe with an accidental but clear low blow. Chanez, under serious fire at this juncture, milked the incident to the point of ridicule, and made it his mission to smother and spoil as soon as he was ordered back to his feet.
As the fight descended to farce, a now-impatient Conlan drew the curtain on proceedings with a soul-piercing right hook to the Mexican's rib cage as the third drew to a close. Chanez, to his credit, unfolded himself and rose from the canvas once more, only to immediately bend back over in agony and force the referee's hand skywards.
Conlan's response to the stoppage was a dismissive shrug of his shoulders en route to exchange platitudes with the Mexican corner, a split-second gesture which encapsulated the fight as a whole.
There were remnants of his overzealousness from Madison Square Garden in March; his constant pivots to a southpaw stance seemed born more of an eagerness to remind everyone of his pedigree than to inflict genuine damage, and they achieved little. He suffocated some of his own work once more, trying to bully up close as opposed to utilise his other-worldly footwork to create angles.
But there were also numerous improvements: this was an altogether more rhythmic Conlan, freed of the pageantry we witnessed in March. His right uppercut – often mimicking the trajectory of a wrecking ball – lived up to such an analogy. His combinations were crisper, cleverer, his power shots less of the Hail Mary variety.
With smiling daughter Luisne in his arms, her fist fittingly aloft, he graded his performance as an 'E' before, on brief reflection, downgrading himself to an 'F'. Belfast teachers are, by all accounts, tough task masters. This was a 'C' – no more, no less. 'Solid effort, can still improve'.
Next stop for the 25-year- old is Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, where he'll throw down on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao's WBO World light-welterweight title defence versus Jeff Horn on July 2 nd . His opponent will be a much-needed upgrade. Perhaps only then will we see Conlan truly take his first steps toward the top of his class.