Michael Conlan responded to his first professional boxing loss by scoring three knockdowns on his way to a dominant points win over Miguel Marriaga on Saturday.
Conlan (17-1, 8 KOs), of Belfast, Northern Ireland, rekindled his hopes of challenging for a world title with this unanimous decision (99-88, 98-88, 99-89) over the experienced Colombian Marriaga in a 10- round untitled contest.
Conlan, 30, was knocked out (and out of the ring) by WBA ‘regular’ champion Leigh Wood in the final round five months ago, but got his career back on track with the confidence-boosting victory in front of his home fans at SSE Arena in Belfast.
“I got rid of a lot of demons on the last lap,” Conlan said.
“I had to be careful and use my shots. I got caught in the last round, for me to get out of it, that says a lot, and I’m back. I want Lee Wood, but any other champion , whoever I meet, I know him I will beat them.”
Marriaga (30-6, 26 KOs) has now lost two straight but has been bowled over by the knockdowns, insisting he slipped. However, Marriaga was outclassed from start to finish and Conlan was impressive, especially in the closing laps.
Conlan boxed carefully and patiently behind his jab until he opened up more in the second half of the fight and landed good left hands in the sixth round.
The Belfast boxer again picked his punches well in round seven and sent Marriaga spinning to the canvas with a handcuff left hook after the Colombian was caught off guard.
Marriaga, 35, complained about being given a count, saying he slipped but was down again a lap later in the eighth. Conlan unloaded a sharp jumpsuit that dropped Marriaga to his knees after his foot gave way.
Conlan forced another knockdown in round nine as Marriaga was overwhelmed.
Conlan may have to wait for a rematch with England’s Wood, who is pursuing a fight against Mexican Leo Santa Cruz, the WBA featherweight world title holder.