Michael Conlan bounced back capably from his first career loss earlier this year, winning a wide and clear decision over Miguel Marriaga in Belfast.
Scores were 99-88, 99-88, and 99-89 from the three judges. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight 99-88 for Conlan, as well.
A fight with three official knockdowns is usually some sort of exciting, but this really wasn’t. Conlan (17-1, 8 KO) was credited with knockdowns in the seventh, eighth, and ninth rounds, but they were all arguable, not one of them anything you’d call a heavy shot putting Marriaga (30-6, 26 KO) on the canvas.
The 35-year-old Marriaga has now lost three of four, and never really looked in this fight until the 10th and final round, when he started pushing the pace, hurt Conlan, and won the only round of the fight where he even had an argument. Otherwise, the Colombian veteran seemed content to stand around waiting for a perfect right hand counter that just never came.
Conlan, for his part, did what he should do — he used his superior boxing skills to out-box Marriaga, and he kept piling up rounds. He sounded happy with his performance, and didn’t shy away from admitting Marriaga hurt him a bit late in the fight.
“I had to get rid of a lot of demons tonight, even in the fuckin’ last round, you know, he hit me with a shot — that guy can punch. He has 10 more knockouts than I have fights. He hit me with a jab in the first round and it was, like, ‘Oh, this guy actually can bang,’” Conlan said in his post-fight interview.
“I had to be careful, use my skills, which I did. In the last round, he caught me with a shot. I’d been using my legs all night, I was a bit off the pace, he was pushing it. He landed a good shot and buckled me a bit, I felt it. For me, to come through that — it’s the last round, I got knocked out in my last fight in the last round, I think that says a lot.”
At 30, Conlan is too old to be a prospect, and still doesn’t have the big wins of a serious contender, but he’s not looking to spend much more time outside of those world title fights, with his focus still set on picking up a major strap.
“Obviously, I want Leigh Wood. Obviously, it’s obvious, but Leigh’s got his own situation, so hopefully he can deal with that and come through and the rematch can be done,” he said. “But if not, it’s anybody else, any other champion. I will be world champion. I know I will. Whoever I face, I know I’ll beat.”
Wood, of course, knocked Conlan out in March, and is currently tied up with the WBA’s Leo Santa Cruz nonsense, with a purse bid for that fight currently scheduled for next Friday.