Best bets for Saturday’s bouts ft Conlan v Marriaga

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

Boxing is back in Belfast on Saturday night, and local hero Mick Conlan is headlining the card at the epic SSE Arena against former contender Miguel Marriaga. The undercard features unbeaten super middle Padraig McCrory against Marco Antonio Periban and the all-Celtic welterweight clash between Tyrone McKenna and Chris Jenkins.

TV: FITE TV

Conlan was smashed through the ropes onto the announcers table in the 12th round of his last contest just five months ago, but Ireland’s favorite featherweight has giant’s stones and the dramatic defeat has not dented his confidence or changed his ambition.

The Olympic medalist, 30, wants to get right back to championship contention and put on a show for the fans, so he’s drafted in a big name from the other side of the Atlantic. Marriaga may be 35 but he has no soft touch, and the three-time title challenger has come to Ulster with aspirations of his own.

The Colombian first punched his ticket to a title shot in 2015 but ‘The Ax Man’ Nicholas Walters was too good for him that night, and it was a similar story when he faced unbeaten Mexican Oscar Valdez in 2017. Marriaga’s only stoppage loss came at the hands of the virtuoso Vasyl Lomachenko, also in 2017.

On paper, losses to Joet Gonzalez and Eduardo Ramirez in the last couple of years look like signs of decline, but ‘The Scorpion’ was competitive in both bouts and he showed he still carries that sting with a big KO in early 2021.

If you have doubts about Conlan it’s probably best to keep them to yourself, but this is a safe space and I can reassure you that this power-punching veteran with 26 wins inside the distance is a legitimate threat. Paddy is as discreet as he is generous in this case, and he won’t tell anyone if you take the huge odds on a Marriaga KO win.

But Conlan is the favorite and rightly so – he is quicker, longer and fresher. Despite the loss in March, the Irishman was beating Wood impressively up to the 10th round and he showed he was world class with his win over TJ Doheny in August last year. Conlan, 30, also dropped both of those opponents and his power is improving as he fully commits to the professional style.

Paddy has responded to the #WhatOddsPaddy with a whole host of markets and he’s offering boosted Power Prices on a couple of selections, but I think the best bet is for both men to take a count before Conlan comes away with a decision win in another thrilling fight.

Marco Antonio Periban

You won’t have to wait until the main event for the action to heat up – the main support act between Tyrone McKenna and Chris Jenkins is sure to be an absolute firefight. McKenna ‘The Mighty Celt’, 32, has made his name with his rangey all-action style, and with two losses in his last three contests he desperately needs a win.

Jenkins, 33, has been British and Commonwealth champion and the ‘Rok’n’Rolla’ is known for his front-foot volume punching. The Welshman has a similar recent record to McKenna but his losses have been more worrying stoppages.

Jenkins was a top international-level 147-pounder but his body has let him down – he cuts, bruises or breaks something in the first few rounds of every serious scrap, while the Belfast boxer has been competitive with truly world class opposition. I am backing McKenna to get his first KO since 2017.

Also on the undercard, local super middleweight Padraig McCrory steps up to face the international scene’s gatekeeper Marco Antonio Periban. Unbeaten Padraig ‘The Hammer’ has been making noise at the domestic level by knocking out four of his last five opponents, and at 34 it’s time for him to see how far he can go.

Periban was a great benchmark in the division when he faced and lost to the likes of James DeGale and Badou Jack back in 2013-14, but he’s only fought twice in the last five years and was kicked out in four rounds by Joshua Buatsi in 2019. The Mexican still has the wily tricks to be a tough night’s work, and I like the value for it McCrory to win on points.

And finally, make sure to tune in early to catch rising star Paddy Donovan. The tall, southpaw sensation takes on Yorkshire’s Tom Hill and it’s worth punting on Donovan to win by KO.

Boxing Tips

10pm: Conlan v Marriaga – Both to be knocked down & Conlan to Win
9pm: Tyrone McKenna v Chris Jenkins – McKenna by KO/TKO
8pm: McCrory v Periban – McCrory by Points or Decision
6pm: Donovan v Hill – Donovan by KO

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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