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Emotional Conlan ponders boxing future after true grit effort

 

By David Kelly

Jamie Conlan admitted that he had never felt physical or emotional pain quite like what he endured on Saturday night at the SSE Arena.

Conlan found himself at the mercy of wicked punching IBF World super-flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines. Down four times, bleeding from his left eye, the 31-year-old Belfast man went out on his shield as referee Steve Grey told him his title challenge was over at 52 seconds of the sixth round after he was felled by a right hand.

The teak-tough Filipino with acid in his gloves burned the resolve of Conlan in the first round with a right hand to the body that had such a delayed reaction that many at ringside believed it was either a shot to the temple had caused him to take a knee or that he had somehow twisted his ankle.

"We both went to throw a punch at the same time and he caught with a right to the body and I've never felt anything like it. I suddenly couldn't catch a breath and when I went back to the stool it was the same. My legs were very heavy from then on and really I never fully recovered from that punch," said Conlan, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph.

"Even when I got home I couldn't bend over. It was as if he had just deflated a balloon. From then on it wasn't that I was feeling that he was hitting really hard but just that my body hadn't recovered from the first shot."

Bleeding from a cut in the second round, Conlan was down from a body assault in the third and a further straight left at the end of the fourth.

What happened immediately after both knockdowns will live long in the memory as the 9,000 in the SSE Arena roared their desire for him to beat the count.

Champion Ancajas was deducted a point for a low blow that dropped Conlan in the fifth but then the little spiteful warrior, promoted by legend Manny Pacquaio, brought about the end of the Belfast man's challenge with that sharp right hook to the head.

"The crowd was amazing. Where else would you hear the Ulster boys being sung along with the Ole song - that's what this sport does, it bring everyone together and I feel very honoured that I heard everyone getting behind me. It meant a lot because I'm heartbroken at how it went," added Conlan, who was in floods of tears as he made his way back to the dressing room.

"I've never broken down like that in a fight before. It wasn't physical pain but real emotional pain, my pride was hurt - I just felt utterly spent.

"I knew the level of opposition and the enormity of the task and how good I had to be. I did everything right in camp so it's very hard to swallow but I have to say he's a great champion and he'll probably go on and unify titles."

Conlan now has the tough task of weighing up whether or not after a hard career it is time to hang up the gloves.

"I'll sit down and have a good think. It's not the best for my family to see me in fights like that, what I have to go through. I love the sport and what it does for people but I'm not stupid, I also know the dangers. I have a baby on the way and I want to be a good dad… it's a big decision."

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