Michael Conlan suffers shock loss to Jordan Gill at SSE Arena

Michael Conlan lost to Jordan Gill at the SSE Arena. Picture: Mark Robinson//Matchroom
Michael Conlan lost to Jordan Gill at the SSE Arena. Picture: Mark Robinson//Matchroom

WBA International Super-Featherweight title: Michael Conlan lost to Jordan Gill TKO7

THE dream could be over for Michael Conlan after outsider Jordan Gill stopped the Belfast favourite early in the seventh round and silenced the SSE Arena.

In what was billed as a career-defining fight, Conlan never settled and, although he had some good moments, he was in serious trouble in the second after Gill caught him flush with a left cross. He survived and bravely fought his way back into the fight but there were warning signs in almost every round as Gill continued to land punishing shots which Conlan seemed unable to avoid.

His answer was to stand and trade, which was never his strongest suit, and the end came just over a minute into the seventh when Gill sent a right hand over his low guard and referee Howard Foster stepped in to stop it with Conlan out on his feet.

“I want to be a world champion and I feel that, after this win, I deserve a shot,” said a triumphant Gill after his career-best, life-changing performance.

“The plan was to make Mick work and I thought I could hurt him with either hand and I hurt him in every round.

“I knew Conlan is a proud man and he has so much heart in front of his Belfast fans and I had t take my time and wear him down and I did that.”

Conlan, starting in the orthodox stance, got his jab going early on and circling on the outside, covered up as Gill fired off brief attacks. The local favourite ended the round with three whiplash right hooks to the Englishman’s body.

Disaster in the second. Gill nails him flush on the chin in a neutral corner and Conlan is sent crashing to the floor. He was shaken and pushed to the brink of a career-ending early defeat as Gill went for the kill but he survives, just, to the end of the round.

Conlan steadied the ship over the first two minutes of the second until Gill caught him with a right hand that drove him into the ropes and again Conlan looked in trouble.

That was the pattern as the fight reached the halfway point. Conlan had good passages but they were undone when Gill caught him clean with powerful straight shots over his low guard.

The crowd came to life in the sixth when a Conlan uppercut burst through Gill’s guard and now it was time for the Englishman to bite down and hang on.

He did and a minute and nine seconds into the seventh he trapped Conlan in the corner and caught him again. This time there was no way back for the Belfast favourite and referee Foster jumped in to stop it.

The defeat, Conlan’s third stoppage loss in the last 18 months, could signal the end of a career that has included so many highlights including a medal at the Beijing Olympic Games and the World Amateur title.