By Eamonn Scott reporting from ringside: The main event of the evening in Belfast, Northern Ireland saw an eight Round Super-Featherweight bout between Michael Conlon (8-0) and Brazil’s Adeilson dos Santos (19-5). This marked Conlon’s first fight back in Northern Ireland as a professional fighter.
In front of what appeared to be close to a sold-out SSE arena, Hometown boy ‘Mick’ Conlon stood focused as popular song ‘Grace’ echoed across the arena while the fans sung in unison. Although not a song for all, it certainly set the atmosphere for what was expected to be a coming of age fight, to finish off what had already been a sensational night of fights. As Conlon made his way to the ring to the tune of ‘Homecoming (Kanye West feat Chris Martin), the crowd grew in anticipation as his opponent Dos Santos stood waiting in his corner.
From past nights of boxing in Belfast with Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett, it was expected that Conlon’s Professional debut in Belfast would live up the high expectation, but due to running behind schedule and a night of long fights, the crowd has somewhat lost a bit of enthusiasm by the time the contest had started.
The fight was nothing spectacular, with many believing Conlon looked very unimpressive. It is impossible to tell whether or not Conlon was only underwhelming on this particular night or, if this is the best he can give, it will be hard to see him being world champion.
As Conlon had tried for a quick finish. The fight went from fast paced in the opening rounds to a more technical one in the latter, which saw conlon pick his opponent apart with heavy body shots and exchange frequent grappling exchanges in the clinch. Conlon never really gave his man much of an opportunity to get into a rhythm and was often able to find space to reset his position.
In a fight which was cut from 10 rounds to 8 in a last-minute scheduling decision, both fighters used very similar styles. The former Olympic bronze medallist dominated the opening few rounds before closing out the last few by staying at range to see home a wide 79-73 decision.
This reporter’s analysis from this fight is as follows; Conlon’s footwork was exceptional, using angles and switches stances to land big body shot combinations on multiple occasions. The biggest concern from is his power. It appeared that he doesn’t have any. Dos Santos constantly walked him down with ease, Conlon getting away with it due to his amateur pedigree. I believe he will get to a high level with his technical ability alone, but I do not believe he has the power to trouble the very best in the world. This could change as he grows with age but for the minute it is worrying.
The undercard was the most exciting aspect of the night with some big wins for the Irish fighters. In what could be shortlisted for fight of the year, highly anticipated rematch between Jono Carroll (16-0) and Declan Geraghty (17-3). Incredible is the only way to describe this fight. Carroll showed a relentless energy and pace to overwhelm Geraghty from start to finish and systematically beat him up. The 3rd round was particularly special, in which both fighters went toe-to-toe and could arguably have been round of the year. With 47 seconds left in the 9th round, Referee Robert Williams stepped in to prevent any further damage to Geraghty’ sparking wild celebration from Carroll’ and his corner.
In the co-main event, Belfast fighter Tyrone McKenna (16-1-1) managed to make it to the scorecards after being dropped twice in the opening rounds against fast rising British fighter Jack Catterall (22-0). Despite losing the first half of the contest convincingly, McKenna was the busier man in the second half and rallied back to make the scorecard a very respectable one. The Englishman managed to hold on to defend his WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight strap by winning 95-91, 94-93, 94-93 on the judges’ scorecards.
In a meeting between two unbeaten super lightweights, Englishman Johnny Coyle (19-0-1) ended the unblemished record of Lewis Benson (10-1). Coyle won a narrow decision, which was an extremely entertaining fight by 96 points to 95 after a scrappy 10-round contest. Scotsman Benson controlled the opening half of the bout but Coyle opened a cut above his opponent’s left eye in the third round and grew stronger as the fight progressed.
In other results, Belfast super middleweight Taylor McGoldrick continued to show the promising start to his pro career with a point win against Casey Blair.
Welterweight Lewis Crocker looked amazing as he continued to impress the home fans with another early stoppage of his opponent, ending his contest against Adam Grabiec with a vicious body shot in the opening round to move to 6-0 with 6 finishes.
Irishman Gary Cully took a decision win over Reynaldo Cajina of Nicaragua in their lightweight contest and Neslan Machado won his featherweight bout against Jose Aguilar.
Michael Conlon Def Adeilson dos Santos via Dec
Jack Catterall Def Tyrone McKenna via Dec
Jono Carroll Def Declan Geraghty via 9th Rd TKO
Tyrone McKenna Def Joe Ham Via Dec
Johnny Coyle Def Lewis Benson Via Dec
Lewis Crocker Def Adam Grabiec via 1st Rd TKO
Sunny Edwards Def Christian Navarez Via Dec
Gary Corcoran Def Victor Ray Ankrah via Dec
Nelson Machado Def Jose Aguilar via Dec
Gary Cully Def Reynaldo Cajina vs Dec
Taylor McGoldrick Def Casey Blair vs Dec
Padraig McCrory Def Harry Matthews via Dec