Conlan cruises to unanimous decision win over Marriaga 

 Michael “Mick” Conlan returned home to Belfast and got back on the winning track. Conlan, who lost a featherweight title bid in March, defeated Miguel Marriaga by unanimous decision in the 10-round featherweight main event Saturday at The SSE Arena.

Conlan (17-1, 8 KOs) prevailed by scores of 99-88 2x and 99-89, securing knockdowns in the seventh, eighth, and ninth rounds. Marriaga (30-6, 26 KOs), a three-time world title challenger, dropped to 1-3 in his last four fights but showed a flourish of his vaunted power. In the 10th round, he buckled Conlan, and there were anxious moments for both men navigating the slippery canvas.

Conlan got the result the packed house came to see. He then called for a rematch with Leigh Wood, the WBA champion who scored a come-from-behind 12th-round knockout in a modern boxing classic.

Conlan said, “I had to get rid of a lot of demons tonight. Even in the fuc*ing last round, he hit me with a shot. That guy can punch. {He has} 10 more knockouts than I have fights. He hit me with a jab in the first round, and it was like, ‘Oh, this guy actually can bang.’ I had to be careful and use my skills, which I did. In the last round, he caught me with a shot. Listen, I’ve been using my legs all night. I was a bit off the pace. He was pushing it. He landed a good shot. He buckled me a little bit. I felt it, and for me, to kind of come through that and it’s the last round… I got knocked out in my last fight in the last round. I think that says a lot. I’m back, baby. I’m ready for any of them.

“Obviously, I want Leigh Wood. It’s obvious, but Leigh has his own situation. So, hopefully he can deal with that and come through and the rematch can be done. If not, it’s any other champion. I want to get back in. I will be world champion, and I know I will. Whoever I face, I know I’ll beat him.”

In other action:

Welterweight: Tyrone McKenna (23-3-1, 6 KOs) UD 10 Chris Jenkins (23-6-3, 8 KOs), Scores: 96-95 2x and 97-94. Jenkins, a former British and Commonwealth welterweight champion, appeared to do enough to earn the victory, but the three judges ruled in favor of Belfast native McKenna. It was a battle of Jenkins’ steady pressure against southpaw volume McKenna, and the two waged a phone booth affair. McKenna recovered from a barrage of body blows to have counterpunching success in the ninth and 10th rounds.

Junior Middleweight: Kieran Molloy (2-0, 2 KOs) TKO 2 Evgenii Vazem (9-36, 7 KOs), 1:23. Molloy, from Galway, Ireland, shined in pro bout number two with a devastating performance over Vazem. Early in the second, a four-punch combination, punctuated by a right hook to the body, put Vazem down for the count.

Molloy said, “I fit right in here. I’m an entertainer. I’m a good fighter, and I proved tonight that I’m a good boxer as well. I didn’t even look for that shot. I just landed that uppercut a few times. His elbows were coming up, and it was a nice, sinking body shot, so I just took it.”

Super Middleweight: Padraig McCrory (14-0, 8 KOs) TKO 5 Marco Antonio Periban (26-6-1, 17 KOs), 2:14. McCory moved his knockout streak to four with a one-sided drubbing over the former world title challenger. Periban was dropped three times in the fifth round, the final blows coming courtesy of a quick-trigger combination that knocked him into a neutral corner. The referee waved off the fight, and McCrory secured the second defense of his WBC International Silver belt.

Featherweight: Kurt Walker (3-0, 1 KO) PTS 6 Marcos Gabriel Martinez (18-4, 5 KOs), Score: 59-55. Walker, a 2020 Tokyo Olympian, stepped up in class and used his superior lateral movement and combination punching to stymie Argentina’s Martinez. Walker, who is signed to Top Rank, turned pro earlier this year and hopes to take the express lane to title contention at 27 years old.

Welterweight: Paddy Donovan (9-0, 6 KOs) PTS 8 Tom Hill (10-3, 2 KOs), Score: 80-72. The Irish southpaw sensation returned from injury — and a nearly six-month layoff — to shut out Hill. It was the first scheduled eight-rounder for Donovan, a 23-year-old who is trained and managed by former middleweight world champion Andy Lee.

Donovan said, “It’s very important to get the rounds in. Tommy is a very, very tough fighter. We knew that before. He hopped in the ring before he accepted the challenge. He’s beat the Irish number one welterweight, knocking him down twice in the fight, so we know what he’s capable of.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

Fundora-Garcia, Derevyanchenko-Adames, headline Davis-Cruz undercard

Rising super welterweight star Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora will square off against fellow unbeaten Sergio Garcia in a WBC Super Welterweight World Title Eliminator that serves as the co-main event of the Gervonta Davis vs. Isaac Cruz SHOWTIME PPV on Sunday, December 5 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

The pay-per-view will begin at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will also feature hard-hitting middleweight contenders Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Carlos Adames squaring off in a 10-round battle. Kicking off the pay-per-view, top featherweight contender Eduardo Ramirez faces former title challenger Miguel Marriaga for 10 rounds of action.

Fundora (17-0-1, 12 KOs) continues to rise up the super welterweight ranks and recently delivered his most impressive victory to date by stopping Jorge Cota in four rounds in May. The six-foot-six brawler has reached this point by showing off the skills of a rugged boxer who is more comfortable fighting on the inside than most.  Born in West Palm Beach, Fla. to his Mexican mother and Cuban father and trainer, Freddy – both boxers – the 23-year-old now lives and trains in Coachella, Calif.

“I’m super excited to be back in the ring,” said Fundora. “I haven’t stopped training since my fight against Cota and I’m always prepared for every opportunity that arises. I don’t know much about Garcia, but my promoter has told me for the past two years that he’s from Spain and he’s ranked number two in the WBC. So it only makes sense for me, being the number four-ranked fighter in the WBC, that we face each other. This is going to be an exciting fight on December 5.”

The 29-year-old Garcia (33-0, 14 KOs) will bring an edge in pro experience into his U.S. debut against Fundora on December 5. Fighting out of Torrelavega, Cantabria, Spain, Garcia has competed professionally since 2012. He ascended the rankings by traveling to the U.K. to defeat then unbeaten Ted Cheeseman on his home soil in 2019 and followed up with a triumph over veteran contender Sergey Rabchenko. Garcia has added three victories since then, including 2020 wins over Pablo Mendoza and Gregory Trenel.

“I want to thank my team for giving me this opportunity to show my boxing skills to the U.S. audience,” said Garcia. “I’m very excited to make the most of this chance that I have. After winning four European championships and other important titles, I feel that I’m ready to win a world title. I am only focused on Sebastian Fundora, but after this fight I want Jermell Charlo or Brian Castaño.”

A 2008 Olympian for his native Ukraine, Derevyanchenko (13-3, 10 KOs), will seek another opportunity at a middleweight world title. Known as “The Technician” and now training out of Brooklyn, Derevyanchenko is long established as a top middleweight contender, having faced the likes of Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin. He owns victories over contenders including Tureano Johnson, Jack Culcay and Sam Soliman. .His most recent fight ended in a decision loss to Charlo in a SHOWTIME PPV headlining fight in September 2020.

“I’m excited to get back in the ring and continue my journey toward becoming world champion,” said Derevyanchenko. “Adames is a good fighter and I respect what he can do, but he’s standing in my way right now. I’m looking forward to this challenge and I can’t wait to give the fans another great fight.”

A native of Comendador, Dominican Republic, Adames (20-1, 16 KOs) fights out of New York City as he seeks to earn a second shot at a world championship. The 27-year-old defeated a slew of contenders including Frank Galarza, Joshua Conley, Alejandro Barrera and former Champion Carlos Molina on his way to a 2019 title shot that he lost by narrow decision to Patrick Teixeira. In his most recent outing, Adames scored a third-round TKO over Alexis Salazar on the Davis vs. Barrios SHOWTIME PPV undercard in June.

“I am very happy to return to action on December 5,” said Adames. “I’m having an excellent and very demanding training camp, so my opponent better be 100% ready. It’s very exciting to be on the undercard of this huge event. My fans expect a great performance from me and I’m going to deliver it.”

Fighting out of Sinaloa, Mexico, Ramirez (25-2-3, 12 KOs) has risen up the featherweight rankings with three-straight sensational knockout victories. He stopped then-unbeaten Leduan Barthelemy in November 2019 before blasting out Miguel Flores in December 2020 and most recently dropping Isaac Avelar in May. The 28-year-old is currently riding wins in five of his last six fights since losing to then 126-pound champion Lee Selby in 2017. He’s won 16 of his last 19 fights overall, with his only other blemishes coming in a draw against Barthelemy that was later avenged, and a decision loss to Claudio Marrero.

“I can’t wait to be back on another big card against another very good fighter in Miguel Marriaga,” said Ramirez. “He’s very strong and he has good experience against top fighters. Vasyl Lomachenko is the only one to stop him, but I will be the second because I need to make a statement with this fight and show everyone that I’m ready to fight for the title.”

A former world title challenger at 130 and 126 pounds, Marriaga (30-4, 26 KOs) most recently stopped Jorge Garcia Jimenez in April to make it victories in five of his last six outings since 2018. The 35-year-old fights out of Arjona, Colombia and has fought professionally since 2009. Marriaga went the distance in a pair of featherweight title fights against Oscar Valdez and Nicholas Walters, in addition to losing a super featherweight title fight to Vasyl Lomachenko.

“I am training very hard for this fight as I always do,” said Marriaga. “I’m very happy with my All-Star Boxing team for getting me this fight. Winning on December 5 will propel me to another world title fight. My only goal is to achieve my childhood dream of becoming a world champion and I’m not going to let this opportunity slip by me.”

 

‘Mean Machine’-Zewski, Marriaga-Gonzalez set for 9/12

The Mean Machine is ready to rise again. Welterweight contender Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, a two-time Lithuanian Olympian coming off a valiant effort last December against Terence “Bud” Crawford, will face NABO welterweight title-holder Mikael Zewski in a 10-rounder Saturday, Sept. 12 from the MGM Grand Conference Center.

In the 10-round featherweight co-feature, three-time world title challenger Miguel Marriaga will fight recent world title challenger Joet Gonzalez.

Kavaliauskas-Zewski and Marriaga-Gonzalez will stream live on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.  The undercard, also on ESPN+, starts at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT.

“Mean Machine proved he’s a top welterweight with his performance against Terence Crawford. He’s itching to get back into championship contention, and Zewski should give him a tough challenge,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Viewers will get a high-energy, action-packed fight with the Marriaga-Gonzalez bout.”

Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) is a seven-year pro who earned a mandatory shot at Crawford with wins over the world-rated David Avanesyan, Juan Carlos Abreu and the previously unbeaten Roberto Arriaza. The Crawford bout headlined the post-Heisman Trophy ceremony telecast on ESPN last December, and Kavaliauskas was competitive with the pound-for-pound great until a pair of knockdowns ended things in the ninth round. He is still ranked in the Top 15 by the WBO and WBC and hopes a win over Zewski (34-1, 23 KOs) moves him closer to a second world title opportunity. Zewski, from Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada, is 8-0 with 3 KOs since a 2015 decision loss to Konstantin Ponomarev in Las Vegas.

Kavaliauskas said, “I am excited to return to the ring, as I still have unfinished business. I still believe I have what it takes to become a world champion, and that journey resumes against a tough opponent in Mikael Zewski.”

Zewski said, “This is the fight I’ve been waiting for. Kavaliauskas is a fast and extremely powerful boxer, but I have all the tools to win. The stakes are high, and a win will propel me into a world championship fight. This is my ninth fight in Las Vegas. I’ll feel right at home.”

Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs) is itching to return after his July 16 ESPN main event was canceled when Mark John Yap missed weight by nearly nine pounds. The Colombian slugger has won four in a row by knockout since challenging Vasiliy Lomachenko for a junior lightweight world title in August 2017. Gonzalez (23-1, 14 KOs) last fought in October 2019, dropping a unanimous decision to Shakur Stevenson for the vacant WBO featherweight world title. With Stevenson having vacated the title to campaign at junior lightweight, Gonzalez’s path to a second world title shot goes through Marriaga.

Marriaga said, “I was disappointed after what happened with Yap, but Joet Gonzalez always comes to fight. It’s going to be a toe-to-toe battle. I believe my experience and power will be the difference. I will not underestimate him, as I must win to move forward in my career.”

Gonzalez said, “It’s a real privilege to be coming back at this time. I want to thank my manager, Frank Espinoza, and my promoter, Golden Boy, for making this possible. Marriaga is a very tough fighter. He’s been in the ring with Nicholas Walters, Oscar Valdez and Vasiliy Lomachenko, so this will give everyone a good indication of where I stand in the division. I plan to make the most of this opportunity and score a big win so I can show everyone that I deserve to be at the top of the division.”

In undercard action:

  • Genaro Gamez (10-1, 7 KOs), who scored a first-round knockout inside the “Bubble” on July 7, will fight Puerto Rican veteran Anthony Mercado (13-4, 11 KOs) in an eight-rounder at junior welterweight.

  • Undefeated featherweight prospect Angel Alejandro (9-0, 4 KOs), from Dallas, Texas, will face fellow Lone Star State native Jorge Ramos (7-2-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

  • In a six-round bantamweight tilt, Manuel Flores (8-0, 5 KOs), from Coachella, Calif., will fight Jonathan Rodriguez (8-0, 3 KOs).

  • Lightweight prospect Eric Puente (3-0), who is training out of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, Calif., will fight an opponent to be named in a four-rounder.

  • Thomas Wu will make his professional debut in a four-round junior welterweight bout against an opponent to be named.

Stevenson on fight with Marriaga: ‘I wanted a strong opponent for my first title defense’

WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson(13-0, 7 KOs) will make his first title defense against Miguel Marriaga(29-3, 25 KOs) on March 14 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Stevenson will not have an easy night with the always tough Marriaga, who is currently on a four-fight win streak, which all ended in knockouts. However, according to Stevenson, fighting Marriaga is something he wanted to do for a long time.

“We’ve been trying to make this fight with Miguel Marriaga for a long time now,” Stevenson said. “I wanted a strong opponent for my first title defense. He’s been in the ring with multiple world champions, and I am ready to prove that I am the best featherweight in the world.

“This is my fourth fight at Madison Square Garden, but my first as a world champion, and it will be my best performance yet. I know all of my East Coast fans will come out and support on March 14.”

In terms of experience, that is definitely on the side of the 33-year-old Marriaga, who has battled but lost to top opposition such as Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oscar Valdez, and Nicholas Walters.

And like Stevenson, Marriaga is looking forward to this matchup.

“I always wanted this fight, and the time is right now that he’s a world champion,” Marriaga said. “He speaks often about how people are ducking him, but here I am. Colombia will have a new world champion March 14.”

Stevenson, who captured his first world title back in October when he defeated Joet Gonzalez, could have gone the easy route in his first defense, but it’s clear, he wants tough opposition. We all know that Stevenson has all the talent in the world and has the potential to be a pound-for-pound best in the sport.

After 13 fights we know some things about Stevenson, but after March 14, we will find out even more.

The Stevenson-Marriaga co-feature will see former junior featherweight world champion Jessie Magdaleno fight the unbeaten Sakaria Lukas in a 10-round featherweight showdown. Stevenson-Marriaga and Magdaleno-Lukas will be televised LIVE on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.