They say you win or you learn, and Michael Conlan is convinced he learned from his loss to Lee Wood in March that could lead him to victory over Colombian dangerous Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena tonight (live on Fire TV from 19 :00) .
The Belfast featherweight was just 90 seconds away from the final call against WBA champion Wood and was ahead on the cards, but it didn’t happen.
Conlan looked quite confident to realize his ambitions of becoming a world champion among professionals and amateurs after a meteoric start, but he may have invested too much in a light offense and “drunk on his own success”.
He knows it’s a problem he can afford against Marriaga, who has fought twice as many fights as Conlan and 26 of his 30 wins were stoppages.
Yes, the visitor has lost five times in his career, but three times have been from big names such as Vassily Lomachenko, Oscar Valdez and Nicholas Walters, which is indicative of the level the 35-year-old has worked at for a long period of time.
He arrives in Belfast knowing that this may be his last chance for world honors, so Conlan is wary of the danger zone he is entering.
“You either win or you learn, and I learned a lot,” the 30-year-old said of Wood’s defeat.
“I think this fight will help me wipe everything off the face of the earth and get back to where I need to be. He’s a guy who doesn’t give up and I think he’ll be there until the end. I expect to pull it out? No – if it happens, it will happen, but I don’t expect it because I know how cool he is.”
All week respect reigned between the couple, but it’s often the calm before the storm, and Marriaga is out of town to catch up.
He may not be at his peak, but he is still a ferocious player and able to punish Conlan for any mistakes he may make during the night.
“I am very confident that I will win and what gives me confidence is training at high altitude in Mexico City,” said Marriaga.
“I saw a fight he lost and I think he will lack confidence because of that.
“I think it will affect him as he tries not to be overconfident.
“I fought the best in the division and the world like Lomachenko and I bring that to this fight.”
The Colombian is in great physical shape, can keep himself in shape well and endure duration, and perhaps there are several shades of Wood in his style – so this is exactly the challenge that the Belfastian Conlan must exorcise from the remaining demons of that March night. a potential rematch represents.
Conlan is wary of the power of the Scorpion’s fists and, having been punished in the final round against Wood, knows he can’t make the same mistakes and cause trouble.
That’s why he’ll box patiently and try to look pretty, avoiding trouble and making sure he doesn’t get dragged into a gunfight that would suit a visitor.
“I don’t need to get into any trouble or get involved in a war,” he agreed.
“I just go there to put on a show and plan a dominating boxing victory.
“I just got greedy for my success (against Wood) and that was the problem and my downfall.
“I guess it’s an experience and something I didn’t have before, that 12-round experience. I had to learn a lot from losing, but I did it and it’s good.”
The loss to Wood was a bump in the road, but a second loss in a row this evening would mean a major setback.
A knockout for Conlan is unlikely given Marriaga’s resilience and resilience, but he has enough reserves to work his way to a convincing points victory that will put him back in the frame for a world title fight.