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Irish star Conlan stops Ruiz in Belfast

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Irish star Conlan stops Ruiz in Belfast

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Irish star Conlan stops Ruiz in Belfast

Irish featherweight contender Michael Conlan had a home country advantage on Saturday against Diego Ruiz and used that to his advantage earning a victory via a ninth-round TKO.

The sold-out crowd of around 10,000 at Falls Park in Belfast came to see Michael Conlan put on a memorable show. Conlan, Northern Ireland’s new featherweight fistic superhero, stepped on the gas late and knocked out veteran Ruiz with 1:34 gone in the ninth round of a scheduled 10-rounder Saturday evening.

With the win, Conlan (12-0, 7 KOs), who is ranked in the top 10 by two of the major sanctioning organizations, moved closer to a World Title shot.

It was the second hometown bout of Conlan’s professional career, but this one was a particularly special occasion. The fight card was one of the premier events of the annual Féile an Phobail summer festival in West Belfast.

Ruiz (21-3, 10 KOs) attempted to move forward, but he was thwarted by the movement of Conlan, who alternated from orthodox to southpaw at times throughout the fight. Just as it appeared Ruiz was destined to go the distance, Conlan turned up the heat, knocked him down with a body shot, and then forced the stoppage a short time later.

After the fight, Conlan had this to say to BT Sport;

“I am a very adaptable fighter. I can box, and I can push the pace. In the end, I got the finish, so I’m happy that I figured it out. I worked it out and answered questions of myself. When he was hurt, I got the finish.”

“Before the fight, I was really nervous, I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t even acting like I wasn’t nervous. I was just myself. I was nervous today. I didn’t know what to expect. When I started my ring walk, that’s the stuff I live for.”

“{The atmosphere} didn’t scare me as much as I thought it would. The first two songs were unbelievable, and when the Red Hot Chili Peppers (“Can’t Stop”) kicked in for my ring walk, I said to myself, ‘This is the reason I picked that song.’”

“I’m prouder that I got the finish. I can box people and I want longevity in my career, but to get the finish was extra special, and I’m really happy I did.”

“I’m ready for a world title soon. This time next year, I want to have a world title around my waist.” 

Conlan hopes to get on the radar of one of the belt holders. Those at 126 lbs. are currently: IBF Josh Warrington, WBA Leo Santa Cruz and WBC Gary Russell, Jr. 

Warrington would seem to be a logical opponent, as he hails from Leeds, England in the U.K. However, there is some question, as to whether Conlan is truly ready for a title shot now, or still needs another fight or two.

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Marquis Johns is a unknown humorist and avid boxing fan. His love for the sweet science goes back to when matches were 15 rounds and has been covering fights since closed-circuit pay-per-views. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth is not only a quote by Mike Tyson, it's also a pretty good reminder to keep your guard up.

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