Boxing

Commonwealth champ Jamie Conlan wants Ulster Hall fight

Anthony Nelson and Jamie Conlan (right) during their Commonwealth Super-flyweight Championship bout at the Copper Box Arena, London last Saturday night
Picture by PA
Andy Watters

NEW Commonwealth super-flyweight champion Jamie Conlan wants to fight at the Ulster Hall this summer.

Conlan, fast becoming one of the most crowd-pleasing fighters around, hopes to put on a show for his fans at the iconic Belfast venue after his dramatic win against Anthony Nelson at the Copper Box Arena in London on Saturday night.

“I want the Ulster Hall in July,” said a delighted Conlan after his win.

“I would even take him [Nelson] again - we could scrap it out in the Ulster Hall and what a fight it would be. We’ll see what the lads say.”

A repeat of his pulsating fight-of-the-year contender with Nelson at London’s Copper Box Arena would certainly pack out the Ulster Hall. It was action-packed from start to finish. Conlan, AKA ‘the Mexican’, had the unbeaten Geordie down in the second round, but he was dropped twice himself and began the eighth under real pressure, with Nelson ahead on points and taking control.

But it all changed in a flash. Nelson threw a straight right hand, which Conlan slipped and then fired in a thunderous left hook that smashed into his opponent’s ribs and left him in a crumpled heap in the centre of the ring.

“We expected him to come on and, in the second round, I kind of punched myself out a bit,” Conlan admitted, who had come close to stopping Nelson in the second session.

“I thought it should have been stopped in the second, he was all over the show, but he showed brilliant recuperation and I have to give him every respect for staying in there and fighting back with me.”

The Belfast man, now 16-0, was involved in an equally intense war with Junior Granados in Dublin last year. Conlan endured a torrid spell in the mid-rounds to win on points and take the WBO Inter-Continental super flyweight title.

“It’s something that just happens,” he said when asked if his appetite for a ‘war’ gets him into trouble.

“We trained all camp to control the distance, control the pace, but it seems that I have to dig it out from somewhere and, lucky enough, I have that one-punch power. For a wee guy, I can bang and that was a shot I worked at right through the camp - slip the right hand and go with a left hook to the body.”

Conlan looked a level above Nelson in terms of boxing ability, but ‘Babyface’ walked through some cracking punches to mix it with him and he landed some big shots of his own. He had Conlan down in the third round and again in the seventh.

“In the third, he caught me with a cracking shot, it didn’t hurt me, but I went out loud ‘woahhh’. It was a very good shot,” said Conlan.

“I remember saying that I’d never been down, I’d never been down in sparring, but now I’m going over more and more times as a pro. I always seem to get up that extra time. It had its moments where I was going ‘what am I doing here?’.”

In the end, Conlan pulled it out of the fire. His appetite for a scrap gets him into trouble sometimes, but he has a massive heart and the punching power to go with it. Watching him in action at the bear pit Ulster Hall would rate as a must-see for any fight fan worth their salt.

 

JAMES TENNYSON looks certain to move up to super-featherweight after his British title bid ended in defeat to Ryan Walsh last Saturday night.

The Belfast Kronk fighter was down in the second and stopped in the fifth round by the experienced Walsh and the consolation for him is that he lost to a good champion last Saturday night.

At 29, Walsh, now 20-1-1, is at the peak of his considerable powers and his hard-core training regime in Tenerife certainly looks to be paying dividends. His movement was slick and his punches had snap.

“I worked my nuts off with Liam [his twin brother] and it helped,” said Walsh.

“I felt brilliant.”

Tennyson’s team were annoyed that referee Michael Alexander didn’t rule the first knockdown of the fifth and final round a low blow: “He didn’t give the first knockdown as a low blow and, obviously, his stomach was still sore and he had to get up as quickly as possible," his manager Mark Dunlop said.

“He did the weight alright, but I think he’s maybe getting a bit too big for featherweight.”

Meanwhile, coach Tony Dunlop admitted he had hoped for more from ‘Tenny’, but he remains confident the 22-year-old, now 16-2, will recover from the loss: “He’s only 22-years-of-age and it’s great experience for him up to now,” he said.

“We expected more tonight, we expected to win that title tonight, but he seemed to be a bit lethargic getting in there and I could sense it. He done okay for a while, but he’s still a 22-year-old kid and he will become British and European champion.

“Tonight was a setback and the best man won on the night, but we will definitely consider moving up to junior lightweight. I think that’s what will be happening.”

 

JAMES DeGALE successfully defended his IBF super-middleweight title against the brave challenge of Rogelio Medina, but he needed points to do it in Washington.

The Brit was in control for the majority of 12 rounds, but ultimately failed in his pre-fight promise of a knockout, instead taking victory on a unanimous decision, with a 115-113 and two 117-111 cards.

It looked like it would be a short evening's work for DeGale after some dazzling early rounds, but the Mexican Medina showed incredible durability to stay in the bout, taking punishment throughout.

He improved as it went on and briefly flirted with the idea of causing an upset as DeGale failed to get the job done, though the judges eventually scored heavily in the champion's favour.

DeGale extends his winning record to 23-1 and held up his part of the bargain ahead of a potential unification fight with WBC champion Badou Jack: “He’s a very tough fighter, he has obviously got a lot stronger and better over the last year and a half,” he said said.

“But skills pay the bills. I'm a bit disappointed. I should be taking out people like Medina, that's no disrespect to him. But I’m still learning. But the main thing is I am still champ. I've got to work on things still.”

 

TONY BELLEW will fight Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC cruiserweight title at Goodison Park in Liverpool on May 29, promoters Matchroom have confirmed.

The fight represents Bellew's first for a world title since his step up from light-heavyweight, where he lost to both Nathan Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson, and the fulfilment of a long-held ambition in doing so at Everton's stadium, the football club he supports.

“I'm over the moon to get this opportunity," said Bellew.

"Eddie Hearn and Bill Kenwright, the chairman of Everton, have got this done, I can't thank them enough. They are both behind me 100 per cent and I'm looking forward to getting this all under way.

“I've been training for four weeks now and this is the defining fight and night of my career. The experience has been passed, I've done it all now - British, Commonwealth, European [champion] - beaten fringe contenders, former world champions - I'm ready to conquer the world.

“I was born to lift that belt on May 29, I've achieved my dream getting this fight on, I know I'm going to win, I can't and won't be defeated at Goodison Park - the greatest stadium in the world.”

Victory over Makabu, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who last lost when being stopped on his professional debut in 2008, could make Bellew Britain's 13th present world champion.

It would also conclude an unusual period in his career, in which he avenged his defeat by Cleverly, played the role of Ricky Conlan in the film Apollo and pursued a fight with former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye.

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