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19th Nov 2017

Michael Conlan’s post-fight words to Jamie are everything about boxing, and family

Lovely words

Patrick McCarry

It was not supposed to happen like this.

Jamie Conlan came into his world title fight against Jerwin ‘Pretty Boy’ Ancajas full of hope and expectation. He has put in the graft and had beaten everyone set in front of him to earn the shot.

He had trained well, was confident of the game-plan and would be fighting in front of a boisterous home crowd. He was up against a damn good fighter but he had a chance. It was all he could wish for and he was determined to take himself to a whole other level.

By the end of the first round, we knew he was in trouble and the Belfast boxer knew it himself. It took a couple of seconds for a thundering body shot from Ancajas to register but, when it did, Conlan sank to the canvas. He made it to round two, then three, four, five and six.

He would go no further but his display was one full of courage and heart. The Filipino was a class above and, in the form of his life and throwing bombs, most fiighters would have done well to survive three rounds. Conlan nearly got through six and he had to eat at least three illegal blows during that stint.

The 31-year-old, roared on by a partisan crowd, surely felt his race was run as early as the third round as he crumpled to the canvas for the second time in the fight. Ancajas was near cutting him in half with savage blows to the mid section.

On all fours, on the biggest night of his career, he punched the canvas in frustration and rose again. He would be going out on his shield. There was no other way.

Conlan took the counts, made it back to the corner, tried to take in the advice amid the wall of sound, and each time he got up from his stool. He was outclassed, comprehensively so, but he was not going to live the rest of his life telling himself he had backed down or quit on himself.

The champion had a point deducted in the sixth round after his third warning for illegal blows. Conlan was either eating vicious body shots or getting caned in the back of the head. The fourth time he took a count would be his last. The referee called an end to the torture and Ancajas had secured his third title defence.

Conlan was distraught but warmly congratulated the victor before the tears came. Who knows if he will ever get as close as this again.

Back in the locker room, there was a more uplifting moment when he caught up with Ancajas again. Younger brother Michael posted this heartfelt message online:

‘Never been more proud of my brother, well done to Jerwin Ancajas. He’s a world class fighter and a great champion. Thank you to the Belfast fans amazing support tonight, proud to be from this city Head up bro alway be my idol love ya xx @JamieConlan11’

It was not to be but Conlan’s brother, family, home-town and his legions of fans could not have asked for much more of the man.