By: Sean Crose
Featherweight Michael Conlan reutrns to the ring this Saturday at the SSE Arena in Belfast to take on Miguel Marriaga in a scheduled twelve rounder. This is an important fight for Conlan, whose last fight ended in a brutal but memorable defeat at the gloved fists of Leigh Wood. After the fight, the Irishman found himself in the rare position of being recognized for failing brilliantly. The fact was the man fought too well and too hard to be written off by the last round knockout that finished him. And so the 16-1 fighter slips back in between the ropes this weekend to face the veteran Marriaga in front of a hometown Belfast crowd. It may be just what the figurative doctor ordered – provided Marriaga doesn’t get his way.
For, although he has five losses on his 30-5 resume, Marriaga has mostly only lost to top tier competition. While Vasyl Lomachenko, Joet Gonzalez, Nicolas Walters, and Oscar Valdez bested him, 30 other men haven’t. Plus, after losing to Eduardo Ramirez in his last fight, the Columbian contender no doubt sees Saturday’s match with Conlan as the opportunity of a lifetime. Conlan, on the other hand, no doubt sees Saturday’s fight as the opportunity for redemption.
“It was more drama than what actually happened,” Conlan recently told ESPN about Wood knocking him out by literally sending him out of the ring when they battled for Wood’s WBA featherweight title last March. “The paramedics were trying to put an oxygen mask on me when my gumshield was in, and people were thinking I was dead, and it was stupid. It wasn’t well handled.” With all that being said, the popular Conlan seems to feel like things are being handled well this time around. “There’s no one better for me to face right now than Marriaga,” he told ESPN.
The Conlan-Marriaga card will be broadcast live on ESPN+ Saturday beginning at 2 PM eastern time.