Paddy Barnes claims WBO Intercontinental flyweight belt with spectacular stoppage but heartbreak for Conlan in title fight
Jamie Conlan has the heart of a lion but even that admirable trait was not sufficient to secure him a world belt tonight in his native Belfast as he was defeated by defending WBO super-flyweight title holder Jerwin Ancajas from the Philippines.
In the third defence of his belt – all away from his native country – the 26-year-old southpaw has proved a worthy champion. He silenced the hostile crowd in the SSE Arena with a wonderful display, which 31-year-old Conlan could not cope with.
He had a nightmare start, being forced to take a count midway through the first round, when he appeared to suffer a delayed reaction to a shot. As is his wont, Conlan picked up a cut on his left eyebrow in the second.
The bell saved Conlan in the third. He was down again after enduring a barrage of punches from Ancajas and the crowd cajoled him into getting up but the champion went for the kill and caught his opponent on the trap but the bell rescued the challenger.
Caught on the ropes in the fourth Conlan endured another barrage of punches but somehow survived and even landed a couple of his own before he was floored again by a body punch but he bravely got to his feet just as the bell rung.
Conlan had his best round in the fifth though he was caught by a low blow and Ancajas was deducted a point after the referee ruled that the blow which had Conlan on his knees was also low.
The fight finally finished early in the sixth round when Conlan was caught and felled with a looping right hand which landed on the back of Conlan's head. Referee Steve Gray allowed it and again Conlan beat the count but this time the referee decided the brave challenger had taken enough punishment and brought the contest to a halt.
Meanwhile, double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes produced the best performance of his burgeoning professional career when he stopped experienced Nicaraguan Eliecer Quezada in the sixth round of their flyweight contest.
Unbeaten in his previous four fights, this was the first time that Barnes had won within the distance and his victory secured him the WBO Intercontinental flyweight belt. He already holds the WBO European title. This latest success will enable him to shoot up the world ranking list and increase his prospects of securing a world title fight.
He went to the centre of the ring from the bell and the pair exchanged blows freely in what was cracking contest. But it was noticeable that having tasted Barnes power – particularly his body shots – Quezada back-pedalled fairly rapidly.
Caught by a right jab to the jaw in the second round he survived a count and though Barnes was the more aggressive fighter, his challenger continued to look dangerous. Given the frenetic pace the contest was never likely to go the scheduled ten rounds.
Barnes' unrelenting work finally got its just rewards in the sixth round when a left hook to the jaw followed rapidly with a punishing left hook to Quezada's body ended his resistance and he didn't beat the count a second time.
“I’m hoping to get back out in March after I have a break over the Christmas. I’d like to get out on Mick’s [Conlan] undercard in New York if I can,” said Barnes.
“I knew from the second round when he [Quezada] went down that he didn’t want to know. I felt I didn’t really touch him, but he just wanted out. I kept backing him up and didn’t give him space to breath and I got the job done.
“It was unbelievable to fight in front of this Belfast crowd. It was unreal. I wanted to give the crowd something to shout about and hopefully I did that.”