Michael Conlan targets a world title challenge in the near future but faces a tough test here. Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse previews the clash and gives his best bet...
"If Conlan continues the form he has been showing since making his professional debut just over two years ago it’s predicted he’ll be contesting world titles within 12 months"
Quality over quantity
There's not a lot of boxing action scheduled over the next few weeks as the UK and Irish scene takes its summer break. It's quality over quantity this weekend, however, as MTK Global stage what promises to be a stunning show at Falls Park in Belfast.
A host of titles will be decided, with Paddy Gallagher and Chris Jenkins disputing Commonwealth and British belts at welterweight and Michael Conlan taking on Diego Alberto Ruiz with WBA Inter-Continental and WBO Inter-Continental featherweight awards on the line.
The undercard allows us the chance to catch up on the progress of Luke Keeler, Alfredo Meli and Steve Collins Jr, with the best of the evening's action shown live on BT Sport.
Conlan faces a tough test
Michael Conlan continues to divide opinion amongst fight fans, but he takes part in what will be another exciting contest this weekend and, on paper, it looks the toughest test of his career. The 27-year-old from Belfast brings a professional record reading 11 wins against no defeats and no draws, with six of his victories to date coming inside the distance. The 5'8" orthodox has power in both hands but has showcased his boxing talents recently, winning each of his last two on points.
The rising star got the better of Jason Cunningham at the Manchester Arena on the undercard of Warrington v Frampton in December, earning a unanimous decision on the big stage, as well as the vacant WBO Inter-Continental strap. He impressed that night and the win pushed him into contention for major honours. He was then seen outpointing the experienced Ruben Garcia Hernandez in Madison Square Garden, New York, adding the WBO Inter-Continental to his list of achievements.
If Conlan continues the form he has been showing since making his professional debut just over two years ago it's predicted he'll be contesting world titles within 12 months. To have any chance of realising that dream he must beat Ruiz on Saturday in front of a bumper audience and he must do it in style. Betfair traders are fans and want nothing to do with opposing him at this stage of his career, making win number 12 as short as 1/40 on the Sportsbook. A third points cheer on the bounce is 4/11, with a first KO/TKO since October available at 5/2.
Ruiz steps into the lion's den
Argentinian fighter Alberto Ruiz not only faces a talented opponent in Conlan, he'll also enter the lion's den of Falls Park on Saturday with the crowd baying for his blood. Belfast will seem a lonely place come the ringing of the first bell but the 25-year-old, fighting out of Las Talitas, will arrive confident he has what it takes to upset the form fighter and his loyal support. Ruiz goes into this one as a man with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
He brings a record showing 21 wins against just two defeats in a career that can be traced back to the summer of 2014. The losses on his card came when being disqualified early in his career against Jesus Maximiliano Simiand (4-4-0), an opponent he was expected to beat without too much fuss. That's easy enough to forgive due to the fact it came in only his seventh contest. The other was the result of a points defeat suffered to Leonardo Bruno Cicopiedi (3-2-3) which also appeared while on the way up. That was another contest he should've won with plenty to spare, but it's all part of the learning curve and would've helped make him a better fighter.
Diego Alberto Ruiz hasn't suffered defeat since June 2016 and has won each of his 10 outings since. He beat Luis Emanuel Cusolito for the WBC Latino silver featherweight title last time, but Saturday represents a serious step up in class in terms of opponent. Will he take it in his stride? Traders don't believe so and are confident enough to offer a whopping 12/1 (Betfair Sportsbook) on the upset. Attractive, but unlikely to pull in too much attention in the build up to this bout. The KO/TKO has been written off as a 20/1 play, the points verdict laughed out of town at 25/1.