Featherweight prospect Michael Conlan made it 2-for-2, and now the Irish Olympic star is on his way to Australia for his next fight.
In a dominant performance, Conlan knocked out Mexico’s Alfredo Chanez in the third round of the main event of Top Rank’s “Solo Boxeo” card on Friday night before a crowd of 2,574 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
The victory came two months after Conlan was led into the ring by good pal Conor McGregor, the UFC superstar, and made an electrifying professional debut that he won by third-round knockout against Tim Ibarra before a raucous, sold-out, heavily Irish crowd at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on St. Patrick’s Day .
Outing No. 2 was a bit more low-key, as Conlan looks to settle into his career. But with the win against Chanez in the books, he will now head to Brisbane, Australia, where there is a sizable Irish community, including many of his family members, to fight July 2 on the undercard of welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao’s defense against Jeff Horn.
With Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at ringside, Conlan had an easy time with Chanez (4-5, 2 KOs), 27, who lost his third fight in a row but was knocked out for the first time in his career.
Conlan (2-0, 2 KOs), 25, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics and was also a 2016 Olympian, dropped Chanez to his backside with a right uppercut in the first round. Conlan also had a big second round, although he was warned for a low blow by referee Celestino Ruiz.
In the third round, Conlan continued to take it to Chanez, who was knocked off balance repeatedly. Finally, Conlan landed a powerful right hand to the ribs and Chanez went down. Although he beat the count, he was in bad shape and Ruiz waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 59 seconds. Chanez then immediately dropped to the canvas again in pain.
Conlan looked more relaxed and sharper than he did in his pro debut, for which he admitted he was overanxious, but he was still hard on himself.
“I’m not very happy with my performance tonight, but it is what it is, and we got the victory,” Conlan said. “This is all part of the process. Next up is Brisbane, Australia. I hope they’re ready for the ‘Conlan Revolution.’
“For my next fight, I want a better opponent, one that is going to challenge me and that is a real threat. I think with a better opponent I’m going to show what I’m made of and what I can do.”
Ex-champ Alvarado knocks out Strode in return
In the co-feature, former junior welterweight world titleholder Mike Alvarado (37-4, 25 KOs) returned from an 11-month layoff and blew through Matthew Strode (24-5, 9 KOs) en route to an easy second-round knockout.
Alvarado, 36, of Denver, won his third fight in a row, albeit against lesser opposition, since losing three straight to top opponents in Ruslan Provodnikov, a defeat that cost him his world title in 2013; Juan Manuel Marquez; and his rubber match with Brandon Rios.
Since the January 2015 loss to Rios, Alvarado has gotten a drinking problem under control, dealt with his legal issues and claims to have rededicated himself to boxing.
“I cleansed my life. I’m staying very dedicated. I love what I do,” Alvarado said. “I feel rejuvenated, like I have reinvented myself. I’m back. I’m here to make a statement. I’m ready to fight for a world title and have the will to become a world champion once again.”
In the first round Alvarado nailed Strode, 34, of Marion, North Carolina, with a right hand that had him very unsteady. Then Alvarado landed a left hook to the side of the head that dropped Strode to his rear end barely a minute into the fight.
Alvarado dominated and continued to pour it on in the second round. He was doing damage with both hands and then badly hurt Strode with three right hands that sent him into the ropes, which held him up, and referee David Smith ruled a knockdown. Strode was in no shape to continue, and, after administering the mandatory eight-count, Smith waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
In another bout, junior welterweight up-and-comer Alex Saucedo (25-0, 15 KOs), 22, of Oklahoma City, pounded out a unanimous decision against Wilberth Lopez (18-8, 13 KOs), 22, of Tucson, Arizona.
Saucedo, who dropped Lopez with a right hand in the first round, got the nod 78-73, 78-73 and 77-74 from the judges.
“Lopez was an opponent that came to fight but we made it work and we got the victory,” said Saucedo, who is trained by 2015 Boxing Writers Association of American trainer of the year Abel Sanchez. “These are the kind of fights that will make me better and with this win now I want to see if [2012 U.S. Olympian and undefeated Top Rank prospect] Jose Ramirez will want to fight me. That will be a fight that will take me to the next level.”
Also on the card, welterweight Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (17-0, 14 KOs), 28, who was a 2008 and 2012 Olympian for Lithuania, knocked out Daniel Echeverria (19-5, 17 KOs), 24, of Mexico, in the seventh round of their scheduled eight-round bout.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” Kavaliauskas said. “He was a tough, awkward opponent, but I’m glad to get another knockout. I loved being in Chicago this week and fighting here as a professional for the first time. I could hear the Lithuanian fans screaming the whole fight. I’m ready for anyone. Whoever Top Rank wants me to fight next, I will.”
Echeverria lost his fourth fight in a row and for the fifth time in his past six bouts.