Sport

"Knocking on the door..." Sean McComb on world title trail

Sean McComb produced a career-best performance against Sam Maxwell
Sean McComb produced a career-best performance against Sam Maxwell Sean McComb produced a career-best performance against Sam Maxwell

SEAN McComb reckons he could be just two fights away from a world title shot after he defended his WBO super-lightweight European belt with an emphatic win in a career-best performance against Sam Maxwell.

McComb dropped his experienced English opponent three times – twice with his right hand, once with a straight left - over 10 rounds at the SSE Arena last Saturday night.

‘The Public Nuisance’ has won seven on-the-trot since the only loss of his career came at the hands of Gavin Gwynne and was delighted with his latest victory.

“It was magic, a great performance,” said the rangy southpaw.

“The atmosphere was great and the crowds came out early – they were real Belfast boxing supporters and it was a pleasure to box in front of them. I was very disciplined, it was a very mature performance so I’m happy.”

McComb will keep pushing up the rankings until he lands a world title shot. Teofimo Lopez holds the WBO belt and McComb has the likes of Arnold Barboza and Jack Catterall above him in the rankings.

“I’m looking for big fights and I hope this pushes me into a world title eliminator,” he said.

“I was ranked eighth before this with the WBO and I’m hoping the defence pushes me up to five or six and I’ll be knocking on the door for a world title in the next two fights.”

Meanwhile, Irish super-featherweight and Celtic featherweight champion Colin Murphy is also on the title trail. Murphy headlines 'Fists of Fury' at the Europa Hotel on February 17 with undercard details to follow. Pre-sale tickets are available through Eventbrite.co.uk

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McComb and Crocker steal the show as Conlan defeat stuns SSE Arena. Reports from all the fights...

MICHAEL Conlan kept his own counsel and made no statement on his future as a fighter after his loss to Jordan Gill on Saturday night.

The stoppage defeat – the second in succession and the third in five fights – was a bitter disappointment for Conlan and Irish boxing.

He was caught flush on the chin by a Gill left hand early in the second round and had to cling on desperately until the bell as the English surprise-packet pushed him right to the brink of an early stoppage. He survived and fought his way back into it but Gill continued to catch him with hurtful, clean shots that Conlan, at his best, would have eluded or prevented.

Despite Gill’s constant threat, by the sixth round Conlan had steadied the ship and it seemed he might even pull off an unforgettable comeback win but Gill tagged him again early in the seventh and referee Howard Foster – the man best placed to make the call – stepped in to wave it off.

That made it three stoppage defeats for Conlan. Losing to Leigh Wood (in the final round) and the hammer-handed Luis Lopez (when he got his tactics wrong) could be glossed over, losing to a European-level fighter like Gill is a serious setback.

If Conlan does decide to hang up his gloves he can do so in the knowledge that he will be included in the list of Ireland’s best ever fighters. An Olympic medallist and an amateur world champion, he came within a whisker of adding the professional world title last year against Wood.

Going into the final round in Nottingham, it seemed he needed only to stay on his feet to take the IBF featherweight belt but he was desperately tired at that point and, midway through the round, Wood caught up with him and knocked him out.

Conlan returned with two impressive wins but Lopez hit too hard in May and, despite a switch of trainers to Cuba native Pedro Diaz, Belfast’s favourite wasn’t able to recapture his magic last Saturday night.

Will there be another chapter? Conlan will take his time before he answers that question.  

Caoimhin Agyarko silenced his critics on Saturday night and there's better to come
Caoimhin Agyarko silenced his critics on Saturday night and there's better to come Caoimhin Agyarko silenced his critics on Saturday night and there's better to come

CAOIMHIN Agyarko showed a calm head under fire as he finished the 10th round on Saturday night with a barrage of punches that had teak-tough brawler Troy Williamson in trouble and holding on at the SSE Arena.

Agyarko’s disciplined performance will have silenced a few of the critics who took pot-shots at Agyarko after three unspectacular wins. He was in against a physically-bigger and more experienced, hard man from Darlington and Agyarko picked off Williamson in the early rounds, then dealt with his roughhouse tactics before he began to flourish and step on the gas and let his hands go in the final couple of rounds.

“I started strong and I finished strong and if I’d really went through the gears I probably could have got him out of there,” said Agyarko.

“I didn’t want to take any risks but I did finish strong so it was a good performance.”

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn said before the fight that he had “high hopes” for Agyarko but wanted to see how he performed under pressure against an opponent who was coming to win and would throw everything at him.

Hearn said afterwards that Agyarko needed to have more confidence in his ability but it’s one step at a time for the former Holy Trinity star, now trained in Liverpool, and he will intend to build on his performance when his next opportunity comes in the new year.

“There were a lot of people doubting me, a lot of people said I wasn’t ready for this fight and that I had turned the fight down and that I would fold under pressure,” said Agyarko.

“I’ve definitely silenced a lot of doubters. That was a big step up for me and beating someone like Troy is massive for my confidence.

“I always believe in myself but now it’s on paper that I can beat someone who is renowned for being a tough fighter and is hard to crack.”