The Belfast featherweight won his big homecoming fight on Saturday night at the SSE Odyssey Arena, taking a leap up in class to widely outpoint recent world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos.
Post the 79-73 eight-round win, Conlan was his usual self-critical self but felt the win, which played out in front of a large and no doubt pressurised crowd, was a major stepping stone in his route to the top.
The Top Rank starlet remarked how “I think that fight is going to help my career massively. That is the first real fight I have had, let’s be honest about it.”
“I thought the last fight [v Ibon Larrinaga] was going to be as the guy had boxed for the Mediterranean WBC title but this guy was a proper fighter who had been a world title challenger.”
“He was a sparring partner for some top guys and been in with some experienced guys.”
That said, Conlan was well on top throughout, putting in a controlled performance orchestrated by new coach Adam Booth.
The Falls Road fighter felt he hurt the Brazilian, who came in in great shape and tried his utmost to spring a surprise, but took a safety-first approach.
Conlan explained how Dos Santos “didn’t like it when I was hitting round the side of the head. Maybe I should have done that a wee bit more. “He was very aware of that and that was why his guard was so high.”
“He has 15 knockouts in 19 fights, so he has a good punch and I felt some of them when I was defending there and he hit me back of the head and he really didn’t hurt me but I could tell he had pop in his punches.”
“So I wasn’t going to risk anything, I am not stupid and I have to think about the future. I don’t need to be slugging it out with someone who I have more skill than and have to bring myself down to that level.”
As ever, there are improvements to be made.
Analysing his faults, the 26-year-old noted how “I’ve got to go back and work on how to control his pressure.”
“I was letting him walk me down a few times instead of maybe just holding my feet a bit more and doing things to make him stop walking forward.”
“But was I 100 per cent in my performance? No, I’m way better than that, I’m a professional and I could’ve done a lot better but I’m happy to come away with that experience feeling what it’s like.”