Michael Conlan defies a hand injury to secure victory in Belfast

Featherweight earns ninth round stoppage win over Diego Alberto Ruiz in Falls Park

A hand injury almost derailed what was in the end a carefree victory for Michael Conlan in The Falls Park, Belfast on Sunday morning. The former amateur world champion improved his unbeaten record to 12-0 with a ninth-round stoppage over Argentinean Diego Alberto Ruiz.

The Irish featherweight was defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt and picked up the WBA version with the one sided victory.

Conlan’s dominance throughout was rewarded when a right hand that caught Ruiz in the ninth was followed by a flurry of body shots. Ruiz’s corner, where his father was part of the team, flagged to the referee that the contest should end 1 minute 34 seconds into the round.

Conlan revealed afterwards that he had hurt his hand during the bout and had to change the way he fought. His regular tactic of moving from southpaw to orthodox was plainly on view as the 27-year-old freewheeled through the first five rounds with nothing much coming back at him from his 25-year-old opponent.


An oddly muted Belfast crowd, not helped by the pouring rain, could see that Conlan, despite his hand, was cruising through the fight. Ruiz was landing little to nothing and in the final round went on to his knee claiming Conlan had landed a low blow. Replays showed Conlan, although warned earlier in the fight, had not landed low. His opponent had taken enough and seconds later Conlan was finishing the bout.

“I’m a very adaptable fighter,” he said after the win. “I always have been from the amateurs. I can box in close and the distance. It (hand injury) forced me to box in a better way and get it finished. Unfortunately my next fight will have to be pushed back a bit but I was happy that I was able to figure it out.”

As Ruiz asked little from the Belfast fighter, little was learned of how he performs under more aggressive pressure, although the evidence is Conlan has the boxing tools to step up another level. His fans will be looking for more explosive power but given that he dominated all nine rounds with an injury any criticism seems churlish. His next move will wait but already there is talk of a world title fight next year.

Former Irish amateur champion Sean McComb, 26, also gave a glimpse of his ability and potential to be the next big Irish performer when the super lightweight eased past veteran campaigner Renald Garrido. The Frenchman, although not stopped, was schooled through all eight rounds by Belfast boxer.

Padraig McCrory took his professional record to nine wins from nine by stopping Steve Collins Jnr, a former rugby player and son of world champion Steve, to be crowned the new BUI Celtic Super Middleweight champion, while Paddy Barnes returned to winning ways, beating Joel Sanchez 60-55, while Dubliner Luke Keeler, with Pete Taylor in his corner, beat US boxer Luis Arias 96-91.

Details - Michael Conlan beat Diego Alberto Ruiz: TKO ninth round; Chris Jenkins beat Paddy Gallagher: PTS 86-85 (Stopped due to cut on Jenkins' left eye); Dennis McCann beat Georgi Andonov: TKO first round; Luke Keeler beat Luis Arias: PTS 96-91; Sean McComb beat Renald Garrido: PTS 79-73; Padraig McCrory beat Steve Collins Jnr: TKO eighth round; Paddy Barnes beat Joel Sanchez: PTS 60-55; Alfredo Meli beat Araik Marutjan: PTS 77-76; Callum Bradley beat Jose Hernandez: PTS 40-37; Sean Duffy beat Naheem Chaudhry: PTS 40-36; Mateusz Kubiszyn beat Damien Sullivan: TKO first round.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times