Last month at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Irish Olympian Michael Conlan suffered another devastating knockout loss in a world title challenge.
In 2022, Conlan appeared to be on the verge of a world title win when he viciously dropped Leigh Wood in the first round. Wood was able to recover and rally in the second half of the fight, to knock Conlan out in the twelfth round to retain the WBA featherweight title.
This time around, Conlan was up against IBF world champion Luis Alberto Lopez.
Conlan started very fast, taking the fight to Lopez from the opening bell.
The strategy was his undoing, with Lopez breaking him down and eventually knocking him out with a big uppercut in the fifth round.
Conlan indicates that he felt something was wrong, mentally, in the moments leading up to the fight and he didn't follow the gameplan of his trainer Adam Booth.
“I didn’t perform. That wasn’t anywhere near the type of performance I put on. I just didn’t feel like I was myself in there at all. I can’t complain as the training camp was perfect. The preparation was really good and unlike the Wood one where I had Covid before, there was nothing this time. I was flying, everything went well, but on the night everything just went out the window and I went blank," Conlan detailed to the Belfast Telegraph.
“Things I never do in any fight like going to have a firefight with a guy you shouldn’t be doing it with and have much better boxing ability than... it was a weird one. My head wasn’t right and things didn’t feel right when I was warming up. I don’t know what it was, I can’t put my finger on it. I felt off and that there was something up. I didn’t know what it was — I just wasn’t myself and it showed.”
Conlan indicates that Booth knew something was wrong with his boxer and threatened to stop the fight before the fifth round got underway.
“It wasn’t even the knockdown or how I was. Adam knew I wasn’t doing anything we’d planned to do. I wasn’t following any type of game plan and he said to me in the round before, ‘Listen, I’m going to stop this if you don’t wise up and start doing what you’re meant to be doing’. Adam asked if I was okay and I said, ‘Yeah’, but really I was somewhere else," Conlan said.
“For some reason — and I don’t know why — it was the first time in my whole career I’ve felt that way. I was just off and can’t explain why. It wasn’t preparation or any issues like that as I’d done everything I needed to do. Unfortunately, things went wrong on the night. I didn’t follow the game plan and things went wrong on the night and I lost.”
Conlan is planning to take some time away from the sport, before making a final decision regarding his future in boxing.