Michael Conlan: Belfast fighter defeats Miguel Marriaga in comeback bout
Michael Conlan returned to action with a unanimous decision victory over Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena.
The Belfast featherweight scored three knockouts on the way to an easy victory in his hometown.
Conlan controlled the game and withstood Mariaga’s onslaught in the final round.
The 30-year-old is making a comeback after being knocked out by Leigh Wood in the WBA title match in March.
After both Conlan and Mariaga were timid opening rounds playing cat-and-mouse, trying to exercise each other, the hometown hero began to gain a foothold in the fight.
Conlan made good use of his leading right uppercut from a left-handed stance to lure Mariaga before making multiple backhand left passes.
He continued to move his head nicely, scoring chances before going beyond the three-time world title challenger’s portfolio.
Entering the sixth round, Conlan’s superior jab began to show. The Olympic medalist, with his hands down, continued to shake his head brilliantly, smeared pimples all over Mariaga’s face, and tilted his head back countless times, constantly tricking him.
As the round wore on and Marriaga became more desperate, Conlan scored a brilliant knockout in the seventh round.
The Belfast crowd was ecstatic when a leading right uppercut sent the Colombian to the canvas. Conlan’s lightning jab creates an opportunity for his bat.
The second knockout came in the eighth, when Mariaga fell to the ground after a series of explosive shots. The next round saw the Irishman knock down for the third time in the game, landing a ferocious backhand on the button.
Marriaga had more knockout points than Conlan had fought, and he was starting to tire. Although the barrage was late, he still failed.
There was also excellent undercard action, including Padraig McCrory’s elimination of Marco Periban. McCrory was the second to stop the Mexican, tied with former IBF world super middleweight champion James De Galle.
Tyrone McKenna and Chris Jenkins put on a real show for fans with 10 gruelling rounds in leather, with McKenna getting the nod on the three judges’ scorecards.
Elsewhere on the card, Sean McComb won an easy decision over Ramiro Blanco, as did former Irish amateur star Kurt Walker One-sided match against Marcos Martinez to advance 3-0.