MICHAEL CONLAN chalked up his fifth straight victory as a professional – but was made to go the distance for the first time.
The fighting pride of Northern Ireland secured a shutout on the judges’ scorecards, 60-54 , in his six-round fight with Luis Fernando Molina.
Prior to this fight the decorated former amateur had never gone beyond the third round, but Molina showed some grit in the squared circle in New York.
Featherweight Conlan goes to five and 0 on his record, and is tipped by many to be a world champion in the making.
Delivering an impressive display of boxing skills, former world amateur champion Conlan switched from orthodox to southpaw with ease and looked comfortable throughout his first paid bout to last six rounds.
Speaking after his win, Conlan said: “I’m happy enough and I was happy to get the rounds.
“I thought I was going to get him out of there, but it wasn’t really unfortunate because I want to move up to eight rounds next time, so it was good to get the six in.
“I thought it was a nice and clean performance, I didn’t really take any shots… it was probably more like my style of fighting, on the back foot and slick boxing.
“I’m happy enough and looking forward to the next one.
“Sometimes I think I’m a better southpaw than orthodox! But I showed that I can switch it up and I can confuse opponents, so I think I did that tonight.
“I felt comfortable,” continued the Falls Road fighter. “I just needed to make sure I was getting ahead and I didn’t take any punishment or any shots that I shouldn’t be taking.
“It’s all a learning process at the end of the day and I need to keep learning to progress as a professional fighter.
“That’s six rounds in the bank now and we can move up to eight next and look forward to a big night on St Patrick’s night next year.”
The Irishman – a two-time Olympian – revealed after the bout that his left hand was sore following his victory, but insisted that it would not impact on his training plans.
He added: “It was just a bit of bruising around the knuckles. It’s no problem.
“The guy had a tough head! I hurt him a few times, but he survived and fair play to him,” continued the Belfast native, who will return to Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s weekend in 2018.
“I’ll have three weeks off maybe because I’ve been in camp all year and it’s been a fast, hard year.
“Five wins, four KOs – I’d have liked if it was five KOs, but unfortunately not! I’m happy anyway and looking forward to a big 2018.”