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Carl Frampton

Michael Conlan must stay off the ropes against the dangerous Miguel Marriaga

Carl Frampton


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Michael Conlan needs to make sure he doesn't stay too long on the ropes and take too many shots

Michael Conlan needs to make sure he doesn't stay too long on the ropes and take too many shots

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Michael Conlan needs to make sure he doesn't stay too long on the ropes and take too many shots

Michael Conlan could have taken a much less risky fight for his return to the ring at the SSE Arena on Saturday night, but to his credit he is jumping in with Miguel Marriaga who is a major threat despite being at the veteran stage of his career.

Once I heard who the opponent was going to be, I thought it was a very brave fight to take.

Marriaga is a puncher, a good fighter who fought at world level before, so this just shows what Mick is all about as he is willing to take a fight like this.

Marriaga has been in with some of the biggest names in the sport like Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oscar Valdez and Nicholas Walters, so it just shows the quality he has.

He may not have beaten any of them, but he is a big puncher and that always carries a threat because you can out-box someone for long periods and then get caught in the end. That is what happened to Mick against Leigh Wood, and even though I had Mick up in the fight, I probably had it closer than most going into the last round.

This is a dangerous fight for him and, really, you could have given him a bye-ball for taking an easier touch in his return after such a brutal fight against Wood, but he’s jumping right back into the deep end here and getting back into world title contention.

If I was Mick’s trainer, one thing I would try to drill out of him is his tendency to stay on the ropes too long. He’s very good defensively and has good head movement, but he still does get hit and that gives an opponent the opportunity to nail him when his feet are static and he’s backed up.

They may throw 10 punches and only hit him with one or two, but those may be the ones to do the damage.

I know what it’s like to come back from a defeat and the mindset going in is just to win — pure and simple. Two defeats on the bounce could be very tough to take and really make life difficult to come back from.

I back him in this one and give him all the credit in the world for taking such a risky fight. People want to see a good fight and he understands that.

There are some really decent fights on the undercard and I like the fact some of the prospects who are just starting off in their career are willing to face each other.

Colm Murphy versus Ruadhan Farrell for the BUI Celtic super-featherweight title and James McGivern against Tony McGlynn add a bit of extra interest.

Credit to them because they could just have some Latvian or Bulgarian journeyman in to beat up for a few rounds, so this keeps things more exciting with evenly-matched fights and for whoever loses, there is still loads of time to rebuild so it’s far from the end of the world.

Tyrone McKenna against Chris Jenkins really stands out as they are both blood-and-guts fighters.

I’m really glad to see a big night back at the SSE Arena as it’s a great arena that tends to produce a fantastic atmosphere.

It’s not the biggest in terms of capacity but it always sounds like a lot more as there is a low ceiling and the atmosphere when I fought there was incredible.

The main event is a great fight and the undercard has the potential to throw up some great action, so it ought to be a very good night of boxing.

Northern Ireland boxers have a Common goal worth fighting for

The next week will give some of our amateur boxers a huge stage to make a name for themselves at the Commonwealth Games, so I hope we can win a good number of medals in Birmingham.

I know there have been suggestions that the level of competition may not be as high as a World or European Championships as, obviously, some of the leading nations aren’t in the Commonwealths, but this is a huge platform.

If Dylan Eagleson goes and wins gold, I would still think his silver at the Europeans is bigger as it’s a much tougher competition, but that doesn’t in any way detract from how big an opportunity and achievement it would be to have a big showing this week.

For me and a lot of boxers, the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland is big as there aren’t many chances to do so, so it’s a really big deal.

Crues’ battling display against Basel bodes well for the season

What a performance over two legs it was from Crusaders in the European Conference League Qualifier against a seasoned club in Basel.

Coming back to Seaview just two down was a bit of a result in itself against a prominent European club, but then grabbing a draw on Thursday was another great result even though the Crues are now out.

The performances over two legs bode well for the season ahead and I think Stephen Baxter will be happy with how things have gone over the last few weeks.


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