Michael Conlan: Belfast fighter targets Leigh Wood rematch after comeback

By Clodagh TraynorBBC Sport
"I'd have been forgiven for choosing an easier fight" - Conlan

Michael Conlan says it is "business as usual" as he prepares to make his comeback against Miguel Marriaga on Saturday.

Conlan, 30, was moments away from winning the WBA 'Regular' title in March before Leigh Wood knocked him out in devastating fashion.

The Belfast featherweight was not interested in an "easier" return.

"To get back in the title race as soon as possible, it needs to be this opponent," he said.

"I would have been forgiven if I had chose an easier fight but I don't understand why I would do that."

Wood's spectacular punch resulted in the first defeat of a previously unblemished pro career for Conlan.

He was treated by medics after being knocked through the ropes and was eventually taken to hospital, where he received the all-clear.

Despite the ending, Conlan thinks his overall performance was a good one.

"I would have come back differently if I was beaten in the last fight, but I wasn't. It was one punch," Conlan added.

"Coming off of the last fight, you can't really knock it. It was a fantastic performance. I just got unfortunate in the end.

"I've fixed the mistakes I was making and that's the most important thing."

Marriaga, 35, is a three-time title challenger with five losses on his record. In 2017 he unsuccessfully challenged then world champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Oscar Valdez.

Conlan accepts Marriaga is a dangerous puncher. The Colombian has 26 knockouts from 30 wins, compared to Conlan's eight.

"He has almost double the knockouts than I have fights," Conlan said. "He's a hard opponent to come back against but I believe I can go out there and beat him comfortably.

"He has only really been beaten by the top guys. He's a tough dude."

Will there be a rematch with Wood?

Conlan was punched through the ropes by Leigh Wood

A convincing win over Marriaga would boost Conlan's chances of securing a rematch with Wood.

Conlan wants "title contention as soon as possible" and has already said he intends to fight Wood again.

"Of course I want the rematch. He won the lottery that night with that punch, and you could see it in his reaction," Conlan told ESPN.Latest news and information 😏😲😪 Michael Conlan: Belfast fighter targets Leigh Wood rematch after comeback - BBC Sport

Englishman Wood is in talks with Mexican Mauricio Lara and has also been mentioned as a potential opponent for IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington.