Michael Conlan answers his critics with a landslide win at SSE Arena

A win was needed and delivered decisively by Michael Conlan as he scored three knockdowns on his way to a total points victory (99-88, 99-88, 99-89) over Miguel Marriaga at the SSE Arena.

Having lost his bid to vacate Lee Wood of the WBA featherweight title in March, Conlan had no room for error, as a second loss at the trot would have ended his ambition.

He vowed to learn from that loss and did so, surviving a late prank from the guest. This time, sliding down to the floor was decided that way. Conlan pulled himself together to finish in front, ensuring that this homecoming would be great.

“I couldn’t have done it without this fantastic audience,” he said afterwards.

“I got rid of many demons today. Even in the last round I slipped, but he caught me with punches and forced the pace, knocked me down a little.

“The fact that I got through it in the last round says a lot – I’m back and ready for anything.”

Conlan opened with a southpaw in what was a quiet first round, landing a push that barely came from the visitor.

Marriaga did fall, but due to a clear slip when he lost his balance, which further encouraged the raucous crowd.

In the second, Marriaga had big ambitions but was marked by a clean left. He landed a solid right as Conlan turned to the right.

Both men seemed to be wary of each other, but Conlan did better early on, luring Marriaga and punishing him with a right in the third.

The Colombian jumped and spun and searched for his perfect right hand, but was jabbed down as Conlan’s head movement made him an elusive target. Conlan forced mistakes, and he took advantage of the right to do so four rounds out of four.

The visitor stabbed with his paw, trying to correct Conlan’s mistake, which remained expressionless. There was a small glimmer of success in the fifth from close range. It turned out to be his best moment in the first half, but the Belfast man was just faster and more precise in his work. His moments were more numerous in a fight that struggled to catch fire.

Given what happened in Nottingham, there was nothing wrong with that, as the Belfast was not here for a moral victory – the hard truth of the fight is that victory was required at all costs.

Conlan landed a right jab, landed a right hook to the stomach, and continued towards the boss as the visitor followed him around the ring, only to taste the leather.

It was anyone’s guess as to when, if ever, the visitor would play, as he made little to no impression. He did hit the gas pedal at the seventh hour, but his progress was rough and subsequently exposed. When he burst inside, he was marked with left and right, as a result of which he ended up on the floor.

After that, Conlan remained steadfast, refusing to waste punch or even energy – that was his downfall in March – remaining happy to deceive Marriaga and stay on the front lines.

However, he wasn’t shy about timing his moments. In the eighth, the advancing Marriaga fell under the weight of his right rib, which emphasized this classy look.

Like a rapier, left down the chimney at nine o’clock, Marriaga was strapped on, and his gloves brushed against the canvas as he fell on the third count of the evening. He turned away with a despondent look, but that moment soon passed as he found room for a heavy right hand in the closing seconds.

Marriaga finally went for it in the 10th and final round, landing several blunt shots that clearly bothered Conlan, but he had been here before and wasn’t in the mood for a repeat of his previous defeat, spinning Marriaga and landing some nasty shots on target . a body that leaked out of the visitor’s ambition and finished on the front foot to finish on top and reclaim the world title.