They say you win or you learn, and Michael Conlan is convinced he has learned the lessons of March’s loss to Leigh Wood that may lead him to a win over Colombian threat Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena tonight ( from 7 p.m. live on Fire TV). .
The Belfast featherweight was just 90 seconds from the final bell against WBA champion Wood and in the lead, but it wasn’t to be.
Conlan was looking good to fulfill his ambition to become world champion as a professional and amateur after a brilliant start, but had perhaps invested too much in light attacking and “got drunk on my own success”.
It’s a problem he knows he can’t afford against Marriaga, who has had more than twice as many fights as Conlan, with 26 of his 30 wins coming from stoppages.
Yes, the visitor has lost five times in his career, but three times against the likes of Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oscar Valdez and Nicholas Walters – an indication of the level at which the 35-year-old has long operated.
Arriving in Belfast knowing this may be his last chance at world fame, Conlan is wary of the danger zone he’s walking into.
“You win or you learn and I’ve learned an awful lot,” said the 30-year-old about the Wood defeat.
“I think this fight helps me wipe the slate and get back to where I need to be. He’s a never-ending guy and I think he’ll be there to the end. Do I expect to turn it off? No – when it happens, it happens, but I don’t expect it as I know how tough he is.
It’s been respectful between the two all week but often this is the calm before the storm and Marriaga is out of town to even the numbers.
He may not be at the peak of his powers, but he’s still a ferocious player and capable of punishing any mistakes Conlan might make on the night.
“I’m very confident that I’ll win and what gives me confidence is training at the Mexico City heights,” said Marriaga.
“I saw the fight he lost and I think that’s why he’s going to lack confidence.
“I think that will affect him as he will try not to be overconfident.
“I’ve fought like Lomachenko against the best in the division and in the world and I’m bringing that to this fight.”
The Colombian is supremely fit, quite capable of maintaining his pace and enduring duration, and there may be some shades of wood in his style – so it’s just the kind of challenge Belfast native Conlan needs to make everyone linger Casting out demons of this night in March a possible rematch presents itself.
Conlan is suspicious of the power in The Scorpion’s fists, and having been punished against Wood in the last round, he knows he can’t make the same mistakes and cause trouble.
Therefore, he will box with patience, aiming to put on a refined performance, avoiding trouble and making sure he is not lured into a firefight that would please the visitor.
“I don’t need to get into trouble or into a war,” he agreed.
“I only go there to perform and plan a dominant boxing win.
“I just got greedy for my own success (against Wood) and that was the problem and my downfall.
“I suppose that’s experience and something I didn’t have before, that 12-lap experience. I had to learn the hard way by losing, but I did it and that’s a good thing.”
Losing to Wood was a slap in the face but a second loss in a row tonight would be a major setback.
A knockout is highly unlikely for Conlan given Marriaga’s toughness and consistency, but he has enough in his closet to secure a convincing points win that will immediately put him back in the frame of a world title.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/boxing/lessons-learned-in-defeat-to-leigh-wood-will-help-lift-me-insists-michael-conlan-ahead-of-sse-arena-return-41893105.html Lessons learned in defeat to Leigh Wood will help lift me, insists Michael Conlan ahead of SSE Arena return