Michael Conlan won the WBO International super bantamweight title as he extended his unbeaten record with a win over Ionut Baluta at York Hall on Friday.
The two men were fighting on a Queensberry Promotions show live on BT Sport, in what was Conlan’s first fight since dropping down to 122-pounds.
It was a competitive fight, but Conlan’s (15-0, 8 KOs) quality was on display against Baluta (14-3, 3 KOs) in the key moments, appearing to get the better of the action.
The judges had it closer than expected after 12 hard-fought rounds, with them scoring it 117-112, 115-114, 114-114 to hand Conlan a majority decision win.
The victory sees Conlan move one step closer for a shot at WBO super bantamweight champion Stephan Fulton, and he is more than happy to fight for that title next.
Fulton is expected to fight in September, against the winner of the upcoming fight between WBA 'regular' champion Brandon Figueroa and WBC champion Luis Nery.
Conlan said: “Baluta is tougher than I thought. He’s shown in his last two fights that he’s as game as he come, but he was missing with tons of punches. It was a good fight though and good preparation for what is to come.
“He held his engine more than I thought he would and he worked every round. It was my first fight at super-bantamweight and my first 12 rounder and the perfect test for where I’m at.
“I want Stephen Fulton in Belfast in August. With the politics of boxing, will it be possible for then? I don’t know, but we will hope so. If it can happen in August I would love that, but if not then in the winter in New York.
“I will stay active and fight in August no matter what, so it’s straight back into the gym. I know I have to be patient and can’t rush too quick, so if I have to wait until December for the world title then that’s no problem.”