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Michael Conlan ‘exorcises demons’ in Belfast

Michael Conlan ‘exorcised some demons’ as well as returned to winning ways in front of a packed SSE Arena crowd on Saturday night.

The Belfast feather registered victory in his fist fight since his dramatic KO reverse, suffered at the gloves of Leigh Wood, in his hometown.

The wide 99-88, 99-88, 99-89 victory over Miguel Marriaga was more than just a return to winning ways exercise. The three-time world title challenger was brought to Belfast to help fast track the Olympic medal winner back to world level as well as to test if he had really put the Wood defeat behind him.

The overall performance and some last-round drama, in particular, certainly allowed him to prove the latter and after the bout Conlan was particularly pleased he navigated shipping a big shot before recovering to finish strong in the tenth.

“I exorcised some demons tonight,” the 30-year-old said.

“This fight was never meant to catch fire – I was there to put on a boxing performance and win without taking much damage.
But that Conlan is in me – that Jamie Conlan. And I wanted to do that bit at the end.

“It exorcises the demons. He wobbled me and the guy can punch, so the fact I battled back and had him backed up by the end of the round says a lot. I answered questions to myself. I don’t give a f**k what anyone else thinks. I answered them and I’m happy.”

The Columbian visited the canvas three times during the fight, although that raised concerns for the headline act.

Conlan admitted two of the knockdowns were slips and although he was the beneficiary of a moist canvas this time around, it did bring back unwelcome Wood fight flashbacks.

“I think I only dropped him once,” he added.

“The other two – that was a bad canvas. There were more demons in my head because I slipped in the 11th round against Leigh Wood. Marriaga slipped twice because of the canvas. The body shot was 100 percent a knockdown but the rest were slips.
I was slipping and was aware of that – ‘don’t let this happen’.”

The younger brother of former world title challenger Jamie Conlan, won wide and looked comfortable for the majority of the fight, also revealed his opponent was durable and dangerous.

“Marriaga is a tough motherf***er – I felt a jab and he got me to the body so it was ‘ohh, they are solid shots’. I pride myself on taking good body shots and they didn’t hurt me, but you could feel them.

“The only man to get him out of there is Lomachenko and with the body shots, I thought I might get him out of there, but I didn’t force is as I know he’s heavy-handed.”

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 sports for a living for over 20 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