With the public workouts due to take place today outside City Hall, fight week has well and truly got underway!
This Saturday night, Belfast-born Featherweight boxer Michael Conlan returns home to Belfast to headline the Feile an Phobail festival.
In what is expected to be a sell out event, boxing will come back to Belfast and offer up an excellent night of fights and look to build a special atmosphere for the outside event in the Falls Park.
The two-time Olympian Conlan, grew up minutes away from the Falls Park, and has headlined The Theatre at Madison Square Garden for the past three years at St Patrick’s Day. He will return home and have home support behind him in his biggest fight to date so far in his professional career.
Conlan who has a perfect 11-0 record with six of these wins coming by way of knockout, will take on Diego Alberto Ruiz (21-2) after his initial opponent and nemesis Vladimir Nikitin withdrew from the bout due to injury in what was expect to be a bad-blooded affair.
Conlan initially wanted the rematch against Nikitin, who was awarded a controversial victory over the Belfast boxer at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Argentine Ruiz, will look to upset Conlan in enemy territory in front of roughly 10,000 fans this Saturday inside the Falls Park as part of the annual Féile an Phobail summer festival.
The winner will take both the WBA and WBO Inter-Continental Featherweight titles and an opportunity to hopefully push for a world title shot with one of the unified champions of the world.
Also on the card Paddy Gallagher will face off against Chris Jenkins for British and Commonwealth Welterweight titles in the co-main event. Padraig McCrory takes on Steve Collins Jr for the Celtic Super-Middleweight title.
While the exciting Sean McComb and former Olympic medalist Paddy Barnes also featuring on the card.
Michael Conlan is a very good defensive boxer for a young fighter and not only is he not easy to hit, but he also hits back with purpose. Conlan has nice punching angles and he also throws very fluid combinations. I haven’t seen too many weaknesses so far but maybe that’s because Conlan hasn’t fought any elite competition yet. This will be a real tough test.
Ruiz is obviously not elite but he’s a veteran who’s been in many wars before. Although Ruiz is fighting on hostile ground, he has nothing to lose and that’s what makes him dangerous. However despite five stoppages in his last 10 bouts, I’m not sure if he has the power to catch Conlan.
With the home support behind him, I expect Conlan to win on all three judges scorecards via decision and impress the Belfast home-crowd.