Michael Conlan could’ve come down to 122 pounds for his fight Saturday night at York Hall in London.
His opponent, France’s Sofiane Takoucht, is a full-fledged featherweight, which is why Conlan didn’t drop to the limit for what he announced last month would be his new division. Northern Ireland’s Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) weighed in at 126¼ pounds Friday for his 10-round fight against Takoucht (35-4-1, 13 KOs), who officially weighed 126½ pounds.
The Belfast native is ranked third in the WBO’s junior featherweight rankings, despite that he has yet to compete within that division since he turned pro in March 2017. The 2016 Olympian would welcome a shot at newly crowned WBO 122-pound champion Angelo Leo if Conlan wins Saturday night, but Leo likely will have to face the WBO’s number one contender, Stephen Fulton, next.
Leo (20-0, 9 KOs), of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Philadelphia’s Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) were supposed to fight two weeks ago for the title Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete vacated last month. Fulton tested positive for COVID-19, though, and Leo instead defeated late replacement Tramaine Williams (19-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC) by unanimous decision to win that vacant title August 1 in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“I would love a [title shot] in my next fight,” Conlan said Wednesday during a virtual press conference. “I know it may not be possible the way things stand with the WBO, but 100 percent, I’d be happy to challenge for the WBO title next.
“I’d be confident in facing any of [the champions now]. If that was the case, it’d be no problem. But we’ll get this one out of the way Saturday and then 122, here I come.”
Conlan, 28, was the WBO’s number one contender for former featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), who gave up that 126-pound championship last month to remain within the 130-pound division. When Conlan informed the WBO that he would compete in the 122-pound division, the WBO inserted him at number three in its junior featherweight ratings.
Conlan was scheduled to box Colombia’s Belmar Preciado (20-2-1, 13 KOs) on March 17 in the 10-round main event of a St. Patrick’s Day card at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. That entire card was canceled March 12 due to coronavirus concerns.
ESPN will televise Conlan-Takoucht and two other fights Saturday, starting at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT. In the main event, Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (27-2, 15 KOs) will box Scotland’s Darren Traynor (16-3, 7 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight fight.
BT Sport will televise Conlan-Takoucht and Frampton-Traynor as part of a multi-bout broadcast that’ll start at 8 p.m. BST.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.