Undercard reports from Conlan-Lopez: McCrory, Cacace. O'Leary, Fearghus Quinn, Conor Quinn, Freeman, Walker

Anto Cacace defended his IBO belt against Damian Wrzesinski. Picture: Mark Mead
Andy Watters

IBO super-featherweight title: Anthony Cacace bt Damian Wrzesinski UD

ANTO Cacace retained his IBO belt with a very solid 12-round display in which he looked sharp and fit and ready for a step up to the IBF world title shot he wants as soon as his sore hands heal.

Cacace deserves his shot later this year and – although he didn’t find the extra gear to force a stoppage - he took care of business with a dominant display against his Polish opponent. The judges scored it 118-111, 117-111 and 116-112 to the Belfast 34-year-old.

“I hurt my hand in the second round,” said Cacace.

“It’s not an excuse because it wasn’t a good performance but a win’s a win. There were a couple of mistakes I made that I shouldn’t have made but it is what it is – a win’s a win. I want Cordina, Navarette… any of the main champions next. I’ve served my time in this game, I’ve given everything to it so where’s my wee bit back?”

Broad-shouldered and tall, two Cacace right hands were an early statement of intent. There wasn’t much coming back from the Pole in the opener and when he did open up in the second there was little sting on his punches.

Cacace turned and smiled at Wrzesinski as he headed for his stool at the end of the third.

By the end of the fourth a stoppage win for Cacace was looking on the cards but ‘The Apache’ seemed content to box within himself and pick his moments to stop out-jabbing him and burst into action and sting the Pole with powerful shots.  

Wrzesinski was determined however and he soaked up two left hooks in the ninth and he battled on to the finish without ever looking like causing an upset. Cacace was disappointed with his performance but, as he said, a win’s a win.


Pody McCrory wants to step up to world title level. Picture: Mark Mead


Super-middleweight: Padraig McCrory bt Diego Ramirez pts

ON after the main event and it says something about McCrory’s popularity that there was still a good crowd in the SSE Arena to watch his fight.

Argentine Ramirez proved resilient and tough and McCrory stalked him down and was a clear winner on points.  

After Carl Frampton left the stage, Michael Conlan took on the baton as the headline act for Belfast fight nights. Without writing him off, if Conlan decides to retire after his loss the question is: Who is next? McCrory looks the best bet at the minute.  

“I kind of felt a bit down after hearing that Michael had lost,” he said.

“In the changingrooms it was like a balloon had been bust so coming out was a bit challenging but I got the job done. I’m hoping to get the winner of (Edgar) Berlanga and Jason Quigley or a shot at Dave Morrell. I want to challenge myself so hopefully I’ll have some news very soon.”

WBC Silver featherweight title: Nick Ball bt Ludumo Lamati TKO12

WITH the SSE Arena baying for Conlan-Lopez, this chief support contest never quite caught fire. Superbly-fit and strong Ball was the aggressor throughout with Lamati never in trouble but also never really showing any obvious gameplan for winning the fight.

Scouser Ball was giving away a couple of inches in height and reach and he compensated with all-out whirlwind attacks which took their toll on Lamati as the rounds went by. With their man exhausted, the towel came in from the South African’s corner at 2.15 in the final round. There were distressing scenes after Lamati collapsed in his corner. He needed oxygen from the medical personnel at ringside and was carried out on a stretcher.

WBC International Super-lightweight title: Pierce O'Leary bt Alin Florin Ciorceri TKO1

THEY call him ‘Big Bang’ and O’Leary lived up to his name with a spectacular first round demolition job on Romanian Ciorceri.

A right hand set up the vicious left hook that put Ciorceri on the seat of his pants inside the first minute. He got back up and O‘Leary just missed with two more haymaker left hands before he eventually landed an uppercut and a left hook and that was enough for referee Victor Loughlin who stopped it after a minute and 11 seconds.  

Featherweight: Kurt Walker bt Maicol Velazco pts 60-54

WALKER came to make a statement and he made it as he stepped up in intensity and produced his best pro performance to date. He hammered his out-gunned opponent over six one-sided rounds. If something is working for you keep doing it, as the old adage goes, and Walker blasted left hand after left hand off Velazco’s head or into his ribs.

Referee Hugh Russell junior scored a shut-out win for the Adam Booth-trained former Canal ABC star and no-one could argue with his decision.

“My knuckles are bust,” said a delighted Walker afterwards.

“I just wanted to go in and give it everything. My shot selection was 10 times better in there than it was before – I switched to southpaw, there were uppercuts, bodyshots… I hit him I don’t know how many times with bodyshots and the referee could have stepped in I thought.

“I’m happy with my performance. He was a tough lad but he’ll be sore for a while.”

Walker will take a break now but hopes to be back in action in July/August.  

“I wanted to make a statement,” he added.

“I wanted to show improvements, since the last show (in Galway) I was able to work on strength and technical stuff and I was able to show that.”


Conor Quinn beat Juan Hinostroza on points over eight rounds. Picture: Mark Mead


Super-flyweight: Conor Quinn bt Juan Hinostroza pts 80-72

A VALUABLE learning fight for Quinn who was pushed all the way by Hinostroza and produced a fighting finish to win over eight enthralling rounds.

He has a sharp boxing IQ that augurs well for his future and referee Eamon Magill gave Quinn every round but Hinostroza was strong, he cut off the ring and trapped Quinn on the ropes over the middle rounds.

A Quinn jab followed by an uppercut and a couple of lead right hands started the action. The Belfast man had to take a couple of right hooks but his long levers meant he bossed the opener.

Quinn moved fluently in the second but Hinostroza kept coming forward and in the third he trapped him in a neutral corner and blasted away. Again the right hand bounced off the Belfast man’s chin and there was more of the same in the fourth with Quinn trapped on the ropes by the strong South American.

Hinostroza looked like he fancied it in the fifth as Quinn shelved his box-and-move gameplan and went toe-to-toe with him. Quinn went back to his boxing over the final two rounds and put any notion of an upset to bed with a fighting finish that sealed a win that should bring him on a ton.

“It was a great scrap, eight tough rounds against a former EBU champion,” he said.

“He’s one of the top guys in the division so it was a step up and they’re the type of fights I’ve been asking for and I showed I had the next gear and he didn’t. It was a learning fight for me because I had to decide when to go to that next gear: Do you want to go in the fourth round or the fifth round and then maybe leave yourself a bit gassed?”

It was an impressive jump up in class for Quinn who only returned to boxing last year after his career had been stalled by medical issues which are now behind him.

“It was the type of fight that you’re either going to win and prove that you’re at that level or you’re going to fall short,” he said.

“I was confident I was going to win but a lot of people have had trouble with that guy and he has beaten a lot of good fighters.”

Middleweight: Fearghus Quinn bt Ruben Angulo pts 60-54

HE entered to the strains of ‘My Brother Sylvest’ and fired out the southpaw jab and backed it up with a series of right hands. He rocked Angulo with a right hand to the body midway through an all-action first round. The fighters swapped left hooks in the second. Quinn left himself open as he attacked and was caught but he responded with one of his own that sent Angulo staggering backwards.

Physically strong, the South Armagh native drove his opponent into a neutral corner and went to work at close range. He does his best work on the inside and he had Angulo pinned on the ropes for most of the final round too.

Middleweight: James Freeman bt Jordan Grannum pts 39

RUMOUR has it that two bus loads of supporters left Armagh expecting Freeman to fight at 5.30pm. The former Orchard county football star actually ducked through the ropes close to midnight – the last fight on the card.

London veteran Grannum let him know what professional boxing was all about but Freeman shaped up well and, although he tired in the fourth round he began his career with a points win.  

Lightweight: William Hayden bt Jordan Ellison Pts 59-55

AN Early right hand over the top briefly had Ellison in trouble in his own corner. The durable Durham native survived the onslaught and he had the better of the second and he continued his good work in the third. A well-timed right hand started an exchange that finished with a left hook that slammed off Hayden’s jaw and the round finished with both men cut over the left eye.

After a scrappy fourth, ‘Willo’ forced the pace in the final two and took the win to move to 6-0.

Lightweight: Callum Thompson bt Marian Marius Istrate Pts 40-36

A SHUTOUT points win to open the show for Thompson. Referee Hugh Russell junior scored all four rounds to ‘The Tank’ who never looked in any trouble and moved to 7-0.