The Belfast featherweight headlined The Theater at Madison Square Garden for a third straight year and dominated Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez over ten rounds in the Top Rank St Patrick’s Day bill-topper.
Featuring on the undercard was Conlan’s infamous Olympic defeater Vladimir Nikitin and Rio revenge is on the agenda, with the Falls Road man addressing the Russian from the ring after his wide points win.
A fight at the Féile an Phobail in Belfast in early August has been mooted, perhaps after interim bouts for both, and it took another step in the right direction with Conlan’s call-out live on ESPN+.
The Irishman said “Nikitin… Vladimir, I know you’re here, I know you’re here tonight, we need to do it again, we need to have that rematch. I need to right a wrong that shouldn’t have been written.”
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) March 18, 2019
The declaration roused the partisan crowd yet again at the famous venue.
Conlan had entered to an electric atmosphere at the Felt Forum and would put on his most complete pro performance to date, winning every round on ever card to retain his WBO Inter-Continental rankings belt and improve to 11(6)-0.
“Listen to this crowd. It’s hard to explain,” he said to more cheers.
“Ireland built New York! Ireland is in New York tonight! And Ireland fucking runs New York!”
“Listen, I love coming here for the fans.
“Maybe my world title fight will be here in the big room a year from now on St Patrick’s Day.”
While Nikitin looked wild en-route to a six-round majority-decsion win over Texan Juan Tapia, Conlan was controlled throughout his triumph.
As is so often the case, the opponent would go into survival mode in the face of the fast hands and skills of the West Belfast boxer.
Conlan admits that he could have maybe looked to force a stoppage but he was happy with his showing regardless.
He explained how “I showed a lot of good defensive moves we’ve been working on. I think I just used my skills as I said I would.”
“There were a few times I probably could’ve stepped on it, but we wanted to practice things we’ve been working on. I felt I did that tonight.”
“We were in no rush to try and take out this guy. He’s tough. He went the distance with [Nonito] Donaire and a few other top fighters. He had a tough head on him.”