Michael Conlan needs just two rounds to dispatch Kenny Guzman

Michael Conlan improved his undefeated record to 4-0 with a second-round stoppage victory over American Kenny Guzman at the Tucson Convention Center in Arizona last night, writes Ciarán Gallagher.

Belfast native Conlan – fighting on the undercard of a world-title double-header topped by his Mexican gym-mate Oscar Valdez– floored his 30-year-old opponent with a big right hand late on in the second to halt the featherweight bout, which had been scheduled for six rounds.

The former world amateur champion entered the ring to the sound of Edwin Starr’s ‘War’, wearing blue shorts with orange trim, and the 25-year-old Irishman set a fast pace from the opening bell against his Montana opponent, who wore purple trunks with black and silver.

Guzman – a full-time carpenter by day, carrying a 3-0 record into the fight – was game and managed to catch the overly-eager Conlan with a few shots early on, but he could not nail the two-time Olympian, who was competing as a full featherweight for the first time.

Starting the fight in an orthodox style, Conlan demonstrated his regular switch-hitting ability by converting to southpaw midway through the lively opener, which saw both men trade punches.

The Falls Road fighter surprisingly received a brief warning for low blows from referee Wes Melton during the round break, but Conlan was far more composed on the resumption.

After working Guzman’s body at the start of the second, a flush right hook from Conlan late on in the round rocked the Montana man, who was marked up under his left eye.

A big, looping right hand floored Guzman in the closing seconds with referee Melton waving the fight off at 2mins 59secs of the round.

“I felt he didn’t have much power, so I kind of done the wrong thing and got reckless and I didn’t mind taking punches,” admitted Conlan, offering a critical review of his performance.

“Manny [Robles, trainer] was shouting at me in the corner, but I was just happy to get a nice knockout.

“I felt a bit more power tonight, I felt I developed a bit, and was working the body a bit more,” added the 25-year-old, speaking immediately after his bout, screened live in the US on ESPN.

Having already headlined two shows across the Atlantic, that TV slot offered Conlan further exposure Stateside.

Promoters Top Rank are likely to install the Belfast man on the undercard of another big US fight bill with a support slot to the world super-featherweight showdown between Olympic gold medallists Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux in New York’s Madison Square Garden Theater on December 9, which will see Conlan return to the scene of his pro debut.

“It’s a really special venue to me and for me to fight there on [the undercard of] probably the two greatest amateurs ever in world boxing is a huge honour,” said Conlan, who claimed he is aiming to build towards a world-title shot “within the next two years”.


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