Who knows if Maradona’s two-handed middle finger salute this week was a tribute to Michael Conlan or a reaction to something else entirely, but we do know that the high-flying featherweight fights this Saturday in Belfast against competitive underdog Adeilson Dos Santos.
The undercard is stacked with pick’em contests, including the bitter rematch between Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty, Jack Catterall’s scrap with Tyrone McKenna and the crossroads contest for Tyrone McCullagh and Joe Ham.
CONLAN v DOS SANTOS
It’s the homecoming parade for 2012 and 2016 Olympian Conlan after smashing seven out of seven opponents on the road under the banner of US promotional giants Top Rank. The big bouts can’t be far off for him, and Dos Santos is a step up from his previous dance partners.
Dos Santos contested the world super bantamweight title in 2017 but got shut down in round two after taking a battering. The Brazilian did take the talented Brit Kid Galahad the full 12 rounds in 2014 and he’s won more than 80 percent of his bouts.
Despite Conlan’s impressive KO record his power in the professional ranks is still questionable and he’s been guilty of rushing his work rather than breaking down his opponents.
Dos Santos will come forward and that might suit Conlan but I expect the away fighter to look strong at the featherweight limit. This is an eight round fight and I can see Conlan being taken the distance for the second consecutive time.
Bet of the bout: Conlan to win on points at 2/1.
CARROLL v GERAGHTY
The first fight between super featherweights Carroll and Geraghty ended in a disqualification for ‘Pretty Boy’ Gero in the fourth round after a spicy 10 minutes of action. The pair never kissed and made up, and both have brought plenty of heat in the build up to this one.
Geraghty was up by a couple rounds on the referee’s scorecard last time but the fight was close for every second of every round. Back in 2014, when the original contest took place, Geraghty had only six previous outings a pro and Carroll had only had two.
Geraghty is the taller man, the more experienced boxer and the slicker operator. If he stuck to a game plan he could probably out-box Carroll over the 12 rounds.
The impression I get is that Carroll is the more dedicated fighter and Geraghty believes he’s simply too good for his opponent. I think the wee ‘King Kong’ can draw his Dublin rival into the type of tear-up that suits him and take the victory again.
Bet of the bout: Carroll to win at 5/4
CATTERALL v MCKENNA
The real quality contest of the night is Catterall versus McKenna but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will last too long. Both are unbeaten and we have the compact, powerful and world-ranked Catterall against the tall, classy, former amateur star McKenna.
Belfast’s super lightweight McKenna faced a dilemma when his former opponent withdrew but Catterall’s swift victory in May – his second successive first round TKO – meant he was ready to rumble without the need for an extended camp.
It appears to be a big risk for the untested home fighter but his team must believe that they can use height and skill to rack up the rounds, because the southpaw’s stoppage account looks to be short on credit.
Former British champ Catterall is ready for bigger things than domestic level but he’s only 24. I think the man from Chorley can get the KO win and possibly do it early.
Bet of the bout: Catterall to win by KO.
At prospect level we have the fight between McCullagh and Ham and the things on the line include the Celtic super bantamweight bauble, the chance to fight for the British title and, maybe most importantly, both boxers’ unbeaten records.
‘White Chocolate’ McCullagh hails from Derry and he’s the tastier puncher and has the sweeter skills. Glasgow’s Ham as been knocked down before in his career and I think McCullagh will bring home the bacon with a win at 4/6.
*All odds correct at time of posting