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Lessons learned in defeat to Leigh Wood will help lift me, insists Michael Conlan ahead of SSE Arena return



Michael Conlan (left) and Miguel Marriaga pose during the weigh in ahead of their featherweight fight

Michael Conlan (left) and Miguel Marriaga pose during the weigh in ahead of their featherweight fight

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Michael Conlan (green shorts) and Leigh Wood

Michael Conlan (green shorts) and Leigh Wood


Michael Conlan (left) and Miguel Marriaga pose during the weigh in ahead of their featherweight fight

It’s said that you win or you learn and Michael Conlan is convinced he has learned the lessons from defeat to Leigh Wood in March which can propel him to victory over Colombian dangerman Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena this evening (live on Fire TV from 7pm).

The Belfast featherweight was just 90 seconds away from the final bell against WBA champion Wood and ahead on the cards, but it wasn’t to be.

Conlan looked well on course to realise his ambition of becoming a world champion as a professional and an amateur after a blistering start, but had perhaps put too much into the easy assault and “got drunk on my own success”.

It is an issue he knows he can ill-afford against Marriaga, who has had over twice as many fights as Conlan with 26 of his 30 wins coming by way of stoppage.

Yes, the visitor has lost five times in his career, but three were to illustrious names such as Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oscar Valdez and Nicholas Walters — an indication of the level the 35-year-old has operated at for a long period of time.

He arrives in Belfast knowing this is possibly his last chance of getting a crack at world honours, so Conlan is wary of the danger zone he is stepping into.

“You win or you learn and I’ve done an awful lot of learning,” said the 30-year-old of the Wood defeat.

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“I think this fight helps me wipe the slate and get back to where I need to be. He is a guy with no quit in him and I think he will be there to the end. Am I expecting to take him out? No — if it happens, it happens but I’m not expecting it as I know how tough he is.”

It has been respectful between the pair all week, but often this is the calm before the storm and Marriaga is not in town to make up the numbers.

He may not be at the peak of his powers, but is still a ferocious punter and capable of punishing any mistakes Conlan may make on the night.

“I’m very confident I will win and what gives me confidence is training at the high altitude of Mexico City,” said Marriaga.

“I saw the fight he lost and I think because of that, he will lack confidence.

“I think that will affect him as he will try not to be over-confident.

“I’ve fought the best in the division and the world like Lomachenko and I bring that into this fight.”

The Colombian is supremely fit, well able to pace himself and last the duration and there are perhaps some shades of Wood in his style — so it is exactly the type of challenge Belfast man Conlan needs to exorcise any lingering demons from that night in March should a potential rematch present itself.

Conlan is wary of the power in the fists of ‘The Scorpion’ and having been punished in the final round against Wood, knows he can’t make the same mistakes and invite trouble.

That’s why he will box with patience and aim to put on a slick display, avoiding trouble and ensuring he doesn’t get lured into a fire-fight that would suit the visitor.

“There is no need for me to get into any trouble or get into a war,” he agreed.

“I’m just going there to put a performance on and plan a dominant boxing win.

“I just got greedy on my own success (against Wood) and that was the problem and my downfall.

“I suppose that’s experience and something I hadn’t had, that 12-round experience before. I’ve had to learn the hard way by losing but I did and that’s a good thing.”

The Wood defeat was a bump in the road, but a second straight loss this evening would represent a major setback.

A knockout is highly unlikely for Conlan given the toughness and durability of Marriaga, but he has enough in his locker to box his way to a convincing points win that will put him right back in the frame for a world title shot.

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