Belfast boxer Michael Conlan predicts a glorious future for the fighting Irish
Ambitious Michael Conlan believes he is now part of a special time in the history of Irish professional boxing.
Conlan chalked up his third straight victory as a professional at the weekend with a stoppage of Australian Jarret Owen in Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on the undercard of local favourite Jeff Horn's shock points defeat of legend Manny Pacquiao in their WBO World welterweight title fight.
The Belfast man pointed to the success of Carl Frampton as the start of what has now become a relentless period of success, with Ryan Burnett the latest to land a World title last month when lifting the IBF bantamweight crown.
"If you look at it, the golden era of Irish amateur boxing has probably ended. People might not want to see it that way but if you look at the pro ranks now, you can see the amount of top fighters there," said Conlan.
"Carl has been leading the way, he has been the leading light and now everything seems to be coming together for a golden age. I'm making my way in the pro ranks, you've got Paddy (Barnes) who won the WBO European title in only his third fight, Ryan Burnett has become World champion and then you have guys like my brother Jamie who is close to a World title shot and Anthony Cacace has a British and Commonwealth title fight coming up.
"I really believe that with the amount of talent around, there's going to be a lot of success in the pro game for many years to come."
In the early hours of yesterday morning (around midday in Brisbane), Conlan gave a polished performance as he patiently went about chewing up Owen, who did his best to frustrate the Belfast man for a couple of rounds with his movement.
At the end of the second, Conlan gave the Aussie a taste of what was to come when he slipped in a cutting body blow and a left hook to the ribs made Owen wince before a further blitz led the referee to call a halt at 1:56 of the third round.
Conlan, who will return to the ring on September 22, said: "That was my best performance as a professional and the atmosphere was amazing. I was disciplined and focused on executing the game plan.
"It took two rounds to find my range and then I was able to settle in and break him down. The body shots were hurting him."
Meanwhile, the vanquished Pacquiao must now seriously weigh up whether or not it is time to hang up his gloves. On the back of his poor display against gutsy Horn, it would seem that father time has caught up with the 38-year-old.
While the points victory for Horn caused some controversy, coach Freddie Roach commented: "I'm going to have a long talk with him over that, because I think maybe being a senator and being a fighter, both is just maybe too much. We didn't have enough time in training camp, the beginning of training camp was not so well; the sparring was bad, he was too light."
Horn came through a torrid ninth round, at the end of which the referee warned the new Australian hero that he would stop the fight "unless you show me something".
Horn dug deep and came out firing in the 10th which led to an exciting final nine minutes of a bloody battle which saw Pacquiao bleeding profusely from two nasty cuts caused by head clashes.
Horn said: "My heart just kept me going. I was a bit blurry in that right eye but I came back."