Boxing

'I'll fight anybody including Isaac Dogboe' says Michael Conlan ahead of December ring return

Michael Conlan stopped Sofiane Takoucht in August and will be back in the ring on December 5

MICK Conlan will be back in action on December 5 – the venue is unconfirmed but it is likely to be in the UK - and former WBO super-bantamweight champ Isaac Dogboe could be in the opposite corner.

Rumours of Conlan-Dogboe have sprung up before and, earlier this year, the Ghana-born Londoner claimed that contracts had already been signed for the fight. That wasn’t the case but Conlan says he’ll happily take on ‘Royal Storm’ if and when they are.

“As soon as I heard he was talking about fighting me, I said to Jamie (Conlan, his manager): ‘Make that fight’. Now Dogboe is saying he won’t go back to 122lbs but he’s the one who’s been calling me out, so I don’t understand it – maybe he just wants to keep his name in the mix?

“I’ll face him if he does come down to 122, if not I would fight Ionut Baluta, the guy that beat David Oliver Joyce. I think he’s being spoken about and that’s another fight I would happily take. I think I would do a good job on him and look good doing so, he’s a good fighter - you don’t beat guys like David Oliver – if you’re not.

“He’d be a dangerman for anybody. So I’d be happy to face him, or Dogboe or whoever.

“At the moment, I don’t know what the plan is or who the plan is for, I just know I have to be ready for December 5th. I told Jamie: ‘I don’t care who you put in front of me, I don’t care who you get, I’ll fight anybody. That’s how I feel. I think he’s happy with that approach and go ahead and get working on things.”

In his last fight – a farewell to the featherweight division – Conlan looked mighty impressive in stopping experienced French fighter Sofiane Takoucht. Now campaigning at super-bantam, he says he has barely stopped training since that August win that brought him to 14-0 with eight stoppage wins.

“I went to Portugal for three weeks and I trained every single day,” said the WBO inter-continental featherweight champion.

“For me to be a 122-fighter, I need to be living at 122 or thereabouts and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, I’ve been trying to keep myself low, keep myself in that direction.

“I’m much lighter than what I used to walk around at.

“It’s a night-and-day difference and I feel healthier and fitter and I feel that I’m already in shape and I don’t need to get into shape which is always a good thing, it’s half the battle and the hard work has already been done.”

There has been speculation that Conlan will get the world title shot he has steadily been building towards on St Patrick’s Day next year against WBO champion Angelo Leo but Leo has to defend his title against mandatory challenger Stephen Fulton first.

“There’s no point in me speaking about that one until they fight each other,” said Conlan.

“It might not even be him, it might be Fulton so we’ll wait and see on that one.”

PAUL Hyland junior will face Liam Walsh for the British lightweight belt after James Tennyson vacated the title to chase “a bigger opportunity”.

Former IBF European Lightweight titlist Hyland returned to the ring with a win in Poland last week having been out of action since losing an EBU title challenge against Belgian Francesco Pantera in June last year.

“It’s a big opportunity for ‘Hylo’,” said manager Mark Dunlop.

Walsh, brother of Ryan Walsh, challenged Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis for the IBF super-featherweight title in 2017 but was stopped in the third round and has fought just twice (both last year) since.

“He was good but he has been very inactive,” said Dunlop.

“He’s had one proper win in three years and that was against Maxi Hughes. Davies stopped him and he’s coming 35 so it’s a good opportunity for Hylo. It’s a pretty even fight and I’m delighted for him.”

EXPERIENCED referee and judge Terry O'Connor will appear before the British Boxing Board of Control after criticism that he used his phone while scoring Lewis Ritson's highly controversial split decision win over Miguel Vazquez on Saturday night.

O'Connor scored the fight widely in Ritson's favour, but a picture later emerged on social media of the experienced official apparently looking at his phone during the super-lightweight fight.

A BBBofC statement read: "Mr O'Connor will appear before the Stewards of the British Boxing Board of Control following his appointment to the boxing tournament at the East of England Showground Arena on Saturday, 17th October 2020."

Ritson won the vacant WBA Intercontinental Super-Lightweight Title and improved his record to 21-1 with the win. He came off second best in a lot of the exchanges and former Lightweight World Champion Vazquez had every right to be upset after Ritson got the nod from two out of three judges.

“It just depends what you like doesn’t it," Ritson said afterwards.

“"He was tapping me and running away. I was hitting him with the cleaner jabs. It was very frustrating being out the gym a year and then facing that style.”

PAUL McCullagh made a perfect start to life in the professional ranks as he earned a third round stoppage victory over Ben Thomas in Wakefield on Sunday night.

The 20-year-old light-heavyweight from west Belfast had Thomas (2-4-3) on the backfoot from the first bell and the English fighter struggled to cope with his opponent’s movement and power.

He was down in round three but bravely managed to get back to his feet but McCullagh continued the barrage and dropped him again. This time Thomas was unable to recover and McCullagh started with the stoppage win he wanted.

In the main event, Michael McKinson produced another masterclass as he dominated Martin Harkin throughout all 10 rounds of their welterweight battle.

Credit to Harkin who was dropped in the opener and again in round two for hanging in there but he couldn't cope with the constant pressure and McKinson securing another big knockdown in round five. Harkin managed to last the distance, with the judges scoring it to give McKinson a dominant win.

"I feel great to get the win. I've been out nearly a year and I was a bit rusty in there. I could have jumped in more when I made him miss, but he's a dangerous guy,” McKinson said afterwards.

"He was an unbeaten fighter, but that's what I do for a living, I take the ‘0's on their records for fun. Granted he isn't the likes of Chris Kongo and Josh Kelly. I believe I can compete with those guys and that's who I want next.

"I've been in the top 10 for three or four years now, I'm beating these guys with ease, one of those judges scored that 100-88. That's a landslide. Harkin might not be a big name but he's more dangerous than half of those guys.

"I believe I'm the best welterweight in the UK, and I deserve to box one of those big names. These fighters can't ignore me forever. I'm the realest of them all and I really want the big names.”

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