ARLINGTON, Texas – One of the few flush punches Kieron Conway landed Saturday night wasn’t enough to saddle Souleymane Cissokho with his first defeat.
The French fighter withstood a knockdown early in the ninth round and edged Conway by split decision in an otherwise tedious 10-round junior middleweight match on the Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders undercard at AT&T Stadium. Judges Don Griffin scored seven rounds for Conway (97-92), but he was overruled by judges David Iacobucci (96-93) and Jesse Reyes (95-94).
The 29-year-old Cissokho, a bronze medalist for France at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, remained unbeaten (13-0, 8 KOs). The 25-year-old Conway, of Northampton, England, lost for the second time as a pro (16-2-1, 3 KOs).
Their fight was closely contested throughout, though neither boxer landed many power punches until the final two rounds.
Cissokho caught Conway with a right uppercut about 1:20 into the 10th round. Cissokho blasted Conway with another right hand, but Conway took it well with 55 seconds to go in their bout.
Conway didn’t land many flush punches in the first eight rounds, but he hit Cissokho with a left uppercut that made Cissokho take a knee just nine seconds into the ninth round. Cissokho seemed to hold his eye as he got up.
Conway tried to follow up on hurting Cissokho, but Cissokho protected himself well for the rest of the ninth round.
The eighth round mostly amounted to Cissokho and Conway trying to land jabs. Conway caught Cissokho with a straight right hand with about 20 seconds to go in the seventh round.
Cissokho connected with a straight right hand with exactly a minute to go in the sixth round. Other than that shot, that round resembled most of the first five in that there weren’t many clean punches landed.
The action picked up early in the fifth round, when Cissokho and Conway each landed right hands in the opening 30 seconds.
Cissokho and Conway continued to trade jabs during and mostly missed power punches in the third and fourth rounds. Cissokho connected with a left hook with just over a minute to go in the second round.
Cissokho and Conway mostly traded jabs in what amounted to a feel-out first round for both boxers.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.