Michael Conlan continues his comeback from world title heartbreak this weekend in the familiar surroundings of the SSE Arena in Belfast this Saturday, as he takes on former multiple-time European champion, Karim Guerfi over a scheduled ten rounds at featherweight.
Conlan vs Guerfi is on ESPN+ in the USA, whilst FITE TV hold the international rights.
Conlan (17-1, 8 KOs) controversially missed out on a medal at the 2016 Olympics and has since carved out a solid professional career that was due for lift off back in March.
The Irishman challenged Leigh Wood for the WBA ‘regular’ world featherweight title in a clash he was expected to win in Wood’s back yard of Nottingham.
Everything was going as planned for the 31-year-old, scoring a knockdown in the opener and dominating the first half of the fight, and although Conlan was dropped in round 11, he still led on all three cards going into the final round, where he was dramatically knocked out of the ring with seconds remaining.
He has rebounded from that night since with a wide points win against Miguel Marriaga in August, and he will hope to get closer to a Wood rematch with a win here.
Guerfi (31-6, KO9) is capable, but has some heavy losses on his record. A three-time European champion at bantamweight, and a former European ruler at featherweight, the Frenchman has lost two of his last four inside schedule, halted inside a round to Lee McGregor in March last year before being knocked out in nine when ahead to Jordan Gill in February.
The 35-year-old did return with a ten round decision win in France in July over Ricardo Mercado.
Prediction: Conlan will want a statement win to lure Wood into a sequel, and if he can get to Guerfi early, he can score a stoppage well before halfway.
McKenna meets Taylor
A decent looking clash takes place at welterweight, where Liam Taylor defends his WBO European title against over a scheduled ten against Tyrone McKenna.
McKenna (23-3-1, 6 KOs) has had an up and down year, stopped by Regis Prograis in six rounds in March before taking a ten round points win against former British and Commonwealth champion Chris Jenkins in August.
Taylor (25-2-1, 12 KOs) is on the comeback trail after an early stoppage loss to David Avanesyan last October, and has won twice since.
Prediction: I fancy Taylor to come through on the cards in a close one.
McComb faces Osadan
Sean McComb (14-1, 5 KOs) goes for the vacant WBO European strap at super lightweight, and ‘The Public Nuisance’ should be able to take a points win after ten rounds against Hungary’s Zsolt Osadan (23-0-1, 15 KOs).
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Graham McCormack (8-1, 1 KO) defends his Celtic middleweight title for the first time, but he may very well find Fearghus Quinn (4-0, 1 KO) too much, and I favour Quinn to win inside schedule.
At featherweight, Kurt Walker (4-0, 1 KO) should outscore Yader Cardoza (26-20-1, 8 KOs) over six, and at flyweight, Conor Quinn (3-0-1, 3 KOs) will likely need the distance to take care of Stephen Jackson (1-28-1, 1 KO) over six rounds.
Unbeaten light heavyweight, Padraig McCrory (15-0, 9 KOs) and undefeated welterweight Lewis Crocker (14-0, 8 KOs) are both set to feature against opponents to be confirmed.
Whilst unbeaten super welterweight prospects, Paul Ryan (5-0, 3 KOs) and Kieran Molloy (3-0, 2 KOs) are both waiting on confirmed opponents respectively.
Andy Lee-trained welterweight, Paddy Donovan (9-0, 6 KOs) will also feature.