Victory was never in question in a happy homecoming for Michael Conlan, who comfortably out-pointed Adeilson Dos Santos on Saturday.
Conlan cruised to a 79-73 decision in an eight-round featherweight bout at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on a card streamed live in the United States on ESPN+.
Conlan did not come close to emulating Jessie Magdaleno, who knocked out Brazilian Dos Santos in a WBO world super-bantamweight title challenge in April last year. But it was nevertheless a slick performance from Conlan (8-0, 5 KOs) on his first professional fight in his native Northern Ireland.
“It was daunting a bit because it was my first proper fight, and he forced the pace, but I’m happy with the performance,” Conlan said. “It’s still not the finished article. I’ve still got a lot to learn. I give it six out of 10. There were mistakes, but that’s all part of learning.”
Conlan, 26, has fought four times at Madison Square Garden, including topping the bill there on his professional debut, and that experience prepared him well for his first performance in his home country since an amateur defeat in 2010.
Two-time Olympian Conlan, who has fought six times in the United States and once in Australia as a professional, was more aggressive than in a quiet first round in the second behind a southpaw stance.
The Belfast boxer, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics and was a world amateur champion, stepped it up again in the third, catching Dos Santos with cuffing rights before reverting to orthodox stance in the fourth. Conlan was always in control with his slick skills and was happy to absorb some pressure from Dos Santos for a spell in the sixth round.
Dos Santos (19-5, 15 KOs), 26, did not let Conlan get into a rhythm, but the Northern Irishman was always comfortable with his quick hands and movement.
On the undercard, Jono Carroll ground down rival Dublin super-featherweight Declan Geraghty in a performance that might catapult him into big fights. Carroll, who beat Geraghty by disqualification in 2014, was stronger, and he targeted the body effectively.
“I want a world title. That’s why I’m in this business,” Carroll said.
Carroll — ranked No. 7 with the IBF — forced a knockdown in a brilliant third round after Geraghty had started better. Carroll (16-0, 3 KOs), 26, was good again in the fourth round, and his strength began to wear down Geraghty (17-3, 4 KOs) in a fight that was mostly fought at close range. Despite being cut around both eyes, Carroll smiled through most of the fight, and his strength eventually overwhelmed Geraghty.
Jack Catterall earned a unanimous decision (95-91, 94-93, 94-93) over Northern Ireland’s Tyrone McKenna in a super-lightweight bout to extend his unbeaten record and set up a clash with rival Englishman Ohara Davies.
Catterall (22-0 12 KOs) scored a knockdown but also had a point deducted in the second round for hitting McKenna (16-1-1, 6 KOs) when he was down. McKenna was cut and down again from a body shot in the fifth but rallied in the second half of the fight.