Jamie Conlan climbs off the canvas to keep his World dream alive
Jamie Conlan had to climb off the floor to keep his World title ambitions on track, defeating Yader Cardoza on a split decision at the Waterfront Hall last night.
Commonwealth super-flyweight champion Conlan lifted the WBC international belt despite being sent to the canvas in the eighth round. One judge scored it 115-112 for Cardoza and the other two had it for the Belfast man, 115-113 and 114-113 after a nail-biting encounter.
Conlan finished with blood streaming from a cut around his left eye and there was as much relief as joy when he heard the decision. He will now travel out to New York to cheer on younger brother Michael, who makes his pro debut in New York on Friday.
Conlan is ranked two by the World Boxing Organisation and after another exciting duel he remains on course for a World title shot later this year.
Going into the fight, unbeaten Conlan said he wanted to produce a smarter display rather than be dragged into a war and that's how he started, using the ring and distance to set up his attacks but in the opening round he nevertheless found himself caught all too often with Cardoza's swinging hooks.
In the second round the Belfast man had more success with his tidy combinations and put his jab to better use in the third. Conlan, who calls himself 'The Mexican', also got the better of some good exchanges at close quarters near the end of the round.
Conlan's defence became a lot more exposed in the fourth when several of Cardoza's looping lefts and rights cannoned off his chin. He may have taken them with little effect but they were enough to give the former World title challenger the round.
Implored by his corner to use his jab, Conlan effectively used his left hand, setting up Cardoza for two tasty right hands in the fifth.
A further right sent the sweat spraying from the head of Cardoza in the sixth.
The seventh proved to be a closer affair as Cardoza enjoyed success with his own jab. But Conlan still managed to deliver the better quality punches to shade it.
Then came the moment of real fear for Conlan's supporters when he was sent to the canvas in the eighth from a sharp three-punch combination. The Belfast man was reeling and had to take further punishment but managed to hold on to hear the bell.
Despite the crisis, Conlan cleared his head and had a good ninth round but then walked into a blizzard of right hands in the 10th. That opened up a cut around his left eye. Conlan shrugged at the end as if to say he wasn't hurt but it was clearly Cardoza's round.
The remaining two rounds were very tight with Cardoza finishing the stronger but Conlan just about deserved the decision.
Shankill Road featherweight Marc McCullough is looking forward to his British featherweight title fight with Ryan Walsh on May 20 at the CopperBox Arena after a solid points victory over Lionel Hernandez.
McCullough sent his foe to the canvas in the opening round and landed further heavy blows but seemed content to enjoy a measured victory, winning 80-71 after eight one-sided rounds.