Mick Conlan blasted out Karim Guerfi in the very first round of their clash tonight to give Irish boxing fans an early Christmas present.
The Belfast featherweight hurt and finished the multiple-time European champion for what was the first first-round stoppage of his career.
With Guerfi falling across the ring after a visit to the canvas, the bout was waved off for an explosive win for the Falls Road fighter.
At 35 and up in weight, Guerfi was no doubt past his peak but proved his danger earlier in the year when he dropped and almost defeated Jordan Gill. Stopped by a shot from the Gods in the ninth round then, there were similarities with the home favourite’s sole professional loss.
For Conlan, it was a case of continuing the comeback. Heart-crushingly stopped by Leigh Wood in the final round of their world title fight back in March, there was no extended break and the Ulsterman was back in the ring in August to dominate Miguel Marriaga and managed to squeeze in a third outing of the year here.
While Marriaga was more of a prolonged beating, tonight was quick and violent.
Starting southpaw, Conlan was straight on his man and took away Guerfi’s legs with a sharp left hand. With the Frenchman slumped on the ropes, Conlan unloaded a barrage of hooks to the body and Guerfi fell to the canvas in stages. Rising quickly, the visitor staggered across the ring and referee Steve Gray leapt in to call off the contest as the crowd went wild.
The quickfire win sees Conlan improve to 18(9)-1(1) while the shell-shocked Guerfi drops to 31(9)-7(5)
Afterwards the former World Amateur Champion spoke of his intentions to challenge for one of the four major belts in Belfast on St Patrick’s Weekend 2023. Who this will be against remains to be seen but the 31-year-old certainly injected some spark back into his career here.