MICHAEL CONLAN has tried to explain his surprising performance in defeat to Luis Alberto Lopez last month.
Their fight was billed as a 50-50 and the betting odds proved as much with both boxers the same price to win.
Critically, however, Conlan had home advantage at the SSE Arena in Belfast with several thousand fans in his corner. Lopez though had already picked up a big-time win in hostile territory when he defeated Josh Warrington last year.
When Lopez and Conlan squared off in the ring it didn’t take long before ‘El Venado’ dragged the hometown hero into a brawl. Each man gave the other opportunities to tee off on one another, but it was Lopez who hit harder and ended the fight in round five with an uppercut leaving the Belfast crowd stunned.
“That wasn’t anywhere near the type of performance I put on. I just didn’t feel like I was myself in there at all,” Conlan said in the Belfast Telegraph.
“I can’t complain as the training camp was perfect,” he added.
It had initially been a bright start for Conlan before Lopez went on the front foot and grabbed control of the fight forcing the Olympic medallist into a trade-off.
“Things I never do in any fight like going to have a firefight with a guy you shouldn’t be doing it with and have much better boxing ability than… it was a weird one,” Conland said.
“My head wasn’t right, and things didn’t feel right when I was warming up. I don’t know what it was, I can’t put my finger on it.”
The warning signs for Conlan had been there prior to the punch that ended the fight. When the 31-year-old was eventually down on the floor it took his trainer Adam Booth mere seconds to throw in the towel thus removing the chance for Conlan to get back up and receive more damaging punches.
“Adam knew I wasn’t doing anything we’d planned to do,” Conlan said.
“I wasn’t following any type of game plan and he said to be in the round before, ‘Listen, I’m going to stop this if you don’t wise up and start doing what you’re meant to be doing’.
“Adam asked if I was okay and I said, ‘Yeah’, but really, I was somewhere else.
“For some reason — and I don’t know why — it was the first time in my whole career I’ve felt that way. I was just off and can’t explain why.
“I didn’t follow the game plan and things went wrong on the night and I lost.”
With two nightmare defeats against Leigh Wood and Lopez in the space of 14 months there is now an air of uncertainty surrounding Conlan’s career.