Home Advantage – Michael Conlan’s world title eliminator set for Belfast

Michael Conlan should have home advantage in his massive ‘regular’ world title fight with Leigh Wood.

Irish-boxing.com understands Conlan Boxing’s bold attempt to bring the fight to Belfast looks to have paid off and the mandated world title eliminator is very very close to being confirmed for the top of an SSE Arena bill in December.

The WBA ordered WBA ‘regular’ world champion Wood [25(15)-2] to defend his title against Michael Conlan [16(8)-0] in a fight that will act as a world title eliminator.

The winner of the bout would be next in line for ‘super’ champion and former Carl Frampton rival Leo Santa Cruz, although with the American’s future plans a thing of debate some suggest the eliminator may be upgraded an out and out world title fight.

Both parties were contacted by the sanctioning body in late August and were given 30 days to agree on a deal or the clash will go to purse bids. Matchroom and Conlan boxing couldn’t reach an agreement in that time frame and the fight looked set to go purse bids. However, over the weekend it emerged the WBA had granted an extension request, prompting suggestions a deal was close to being done.

Rumour in Belfast over the weekend had the fight signed sealed, delivered and Belfast bound, while sources from the Wood end have since confirmed an announcement is imminent and confirmed the English fighter has agreed to come to the lion’s den.

The only stumbling hurdle now to overcome is pandemic-related. If the powers that be give the go-ahead for full capacity Irish-boxing.com understands the fight is a go for the SSE Arena.

With an announcement due tonight, it’s safe to assume that hurdle has been jumped.

Bringing a titleholder with a new Matchroom contract in his back pocket to Belfast is a coup for Conlan Boxing and is a real signal of intent promotionally.

It’s also huge for world title hopeful Conlan, he gets home advantage for the biggest fight of his career to date and cements his status as the boxing mad city’s current main man.

Local talent may also benefit as there is a card to be filled – and with talk of a November MTK card the majority of those that fought on the Feile undercard may already have plans.

Conlan became mandatory for Wood when he won the ‘interim’ WBA 126lbs title by beating TJ Doheny at the Feile in August.

The ‘interim’ title was scrapped soon after but Belfast’s Olympic medal winner was given mandatory status in its place and, so, is next in line for Wood, who obtained the strap following a stunning twelfth-round stoppage of Xu Can on July 31st.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com