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Monday 27 March 2017

Jamie Conlan is on course for world title

Jamie Conlan celebrates after defeating Yarder Cardoza last week. Pic: Sportsfile.
Jamie Conlan celebrates after defeating Yarder Cardoza last week. Pic: Sportsfile.

Michael Conlan made his high profile pro debut in New York last night.

A week ago in Belfast, Michael's brother Jamie took his unbeaten record to 19-0 with a split decision win against Yader Cardoza, a tough Nicaraguan fighter with 22 wins in his 33 fights.

The fight at the Waterfront was for the WBC International Silver super flyweight title and Jamie added the belt to a collection that includes the WBO European title, the WBO Inter-Continental title and the Commonwealth title.

He'd made his pro debut in 2009, having decided to turn professional when he'd found himself on course to meet brother Michael in the Ulster final, a fight which qualified the winner for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Michael's career through the amateur ranks was spectacular before his angry denouncement of the AIBA following a shocking judging display in Rio.

Jamie's career as a professional has been equally spectacular with the older Conlan brother involved in some of the bloodiest, most thrilling fights seen in Ireland.

On Friday last, the Belfast fighter they call 'The Mexican' had to pick himself up off the canvas in the eighth round and tap into reserves of courage and ringcraft to survive until the bell.

He came back strong in the ninth and did enough from there to convince two of the three judges that he was the top man.

It was a pattern we'd seen before.

In his Commonwealth title fight against Anthony Shields, Conlan put the reigning champion down in the first before finding himself on the deck in the third round.

He was down again in the seventh before ending the drama early with a crippling body-shot in the eight.

Jamie's WBO Inter-Continental title defence against Junior Granados (22) at the National Stadium two years ago was an even more blood-splattered portrait of bravery, stubbornness and sheer grit.

The brutality and heroics of the seventh round, when Conlan dragged himself up from two pulverising knockdowns to outbox his opponent and retain his title, will live long in the annals of Irish boxing history.

Last week against Cardoza, the advantage swung either way until the final bell. There was silence as the scores were tallied.

Battered and bruised, a victorious Conlan joked afterwards: "To quote Lethal Weapon, 'I'm getting too old for this shit.'

"My shots were more crisp," said Jamie. "I was snapping him back. I hurt him. It was my fault I didn't capitalise on it."

Expect unbeaten Jamie Conlan to fight for a world title within twelve months.

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