Michael Conlan aced his French test like a bilingual student sitting the Leaving Cert despite almost being thrown out of the exam hall.
Former European champion and recent world title challenger Sofiane Takoucht was billed as the Belfast man’s toughest test to date, although some argued harshly, his stoppage defeat to Josh Warrington was proof his best days were behind him.
Regardless, for Conlan the experienced and known name provided him with a chance to finally make a statement – and he did manage to show his class whilst taking a long stride to a world title shot.
The Adam Booth trained fighter did threaten to throw it all away, as two low blow warnings left him one stray shot away from disqualification with half the fight remaining.
The natural talent readjusted and looked to box his way to a comfortable emphatic win, until his accuracy and timing allowed him to register a last round stoppage.
Conlan looked sharp from the off. He set the pace from the off and worked the body well in the first stanza. The not so Baby faced ‘Baby Face’ also seemed to struggle with the Olympic medal winners southpaw jab.
It was much of the same in the second with the Belfast fighter looking comfortable and showing flashes of class. One nicely timed left uppercut caught the eye and he added some up stairs hook to the regular body work.
Two warnings in the third for low shots saw Conlan flirt with a point deduction, but by that stage it looked as if the fight was only going to go one way regardless.
The former European champ did show he still had stomach for the fight as they pair went tete to tete after the bell.
That stomach was hurting after some brilliant worked body shots, which all came off disguising jabs, be it from the south paw or orthodox stance, looked to have Conlan on the verge of victory in the fourth.
However, another low blow threw a spanner in the works and the European and World gold medal winner docked a point by referee Richie Grey.
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Michael Conlan and Sofiane Takoucht touch heads and exchange words after the bell. pic.twitter.com/YzJ0gPW20m
Conlan avoided the body for the first half of the fifth, but threw low again in the latter part of the round, resulting in another point deduction. At that point the referee warned the Irish fighter a disqualification would come the next time he strayed south of the border.
The sixth went the way of the 28-year-old, but the fact he was wary of the going to the body seemed to give his 34-year-old a stoppage reprieve.
Conlan landed sensationally maneuvered left to the liver in the seventh and the stoppage looked on the cards. However, Takoucht showed bravery to hang on in and fire back on occasion. It was also brave from the Top Rank fighter as he continued to work the body despite the obvious risks involved.
The French veteran rallied in the eight and possibly won the round . Somewhat inspired he remained game in the ninth, but went into the last with knockout his only hope of victory.
However, it was Conlan who managed the last round stoppage. Technical to the last the world title hopeful managed to time an up and down stairs combo that opened the door to an eight career stoppage.
Speaking before the clash Conlan had declared he was super bantamweight bound.
The younger brother of former world title challenger Jamie Conlan, now his manager, is currently ranked #3 at 122lbs with the WBO.
The Adam Booth trained fighter claimed he was willing to jump straight into world title action at the lower weight, but is more likely going to have to wait for those ranked above him, Stephen Fulton and champion Angelo Leo to battle it out for the strap.