Michael Conlan returns to action on Saturday night with a future rematch against Leigh Wood still very much in his plans.
In front of his raucous home support the Northern Ireland featherweight takes on three-time world title challenger Miguel Marriaga at Belfast’s SSE Arena.
The Colombian has already been in with the likes of Nicholas Walters, Oscar Valdez and Vasiliy Lomachenko, therefore representing a solid test for Conlan’s first fight since losing to Wood.
Boxing Social’s Harry Judd asked Conlan if he was expecting a test from the 35-year-old on Saturday.
“100%. The only people he’s lost to are hard hitting challengers and world champions.”
“The only person who’s stopped him is Lomachenko. He’s been in with very, very high calibre opponents. I don’t expect to take him out. I expect to use my boxing skills and get the victory.”
An impressive win for Conlan will re-establish the 30-year-old on the world scene at 126lbs and restart his title ambitions.
In March Conlan and Wood produced a fight for the ages in Nottingham when the latter defended his WBA ‘Regular’ title.
After bouncing back from a knockdown in the penultimate frame Conlan found himself out of the ring and knocked out with 90 seconds left in a thrilling 12th round.
Prior to that the champion was on the deck in the first session and on the receiving end of Conlan’s eye catching skillset which looked as though it was taking him towards victory. What happened with 90 seconds to go proved that anything can happen in boxing.
Conlan spoke about his first professional loss and his hopes to get Wood in the ring again.
“I went over the loss, know where I made mistakes. It’s been more of a learning curve than anything.”
“I’m really happy with how things have progressed since. I know the silly mistakes I’ve made. I’ve went back and tried to correct them and fix things. I think I’ve taken it more as a learning than a loss.”
“I got took out in the last minute and a half. One punch can change the course of a fight and that’s what happened. All credit to Leigh Wood, he dug deep, and he got it done. Fair play.”
“Eventually we’ll have the rematch and eventually I’ll get my victory but until then I’ve just got to focus on who’s in front of me and keep pushing forward.”
While Conlan has a fight date to look forward to Wood is still waiting for his next defence.
The Nottingham fighter has been linked to facing former Josh Warrington conqueror Mauricio Lara as well as a potentially career defining fight against WBA ‘Super’ champion Leo Santa Cruz.
At time of writing the governing body had issued a purse bid deadline of August 12.
Boxing Social asked Conlan who he thinks will win should a fight between Santa Cruz and Wood take place.
“I think Leo wins.”
“My opinion of Leigh Wood hasn’t changed. I said before the fight he’s tough, he’s resilient and he punches hard.”
“I don’t think he punches hard as what is made out. In our fight I think it was fatigue that got me more than anything. I took bigger shots throughout the fight, and I was still standing. I was never hurt.”
“With Santa Cruz, is he too old? Will Leigh get him? I would lean towards Santa Cruz. Do I think the fight happens? I actually don’t.”