It was a night of mixed fortunes for Irish boxing last night, as Madison Square Garden turned a most spectacular shade of green for a St. Patrick's Day takeover.
It's a venue that Michael Conlan is becoming quite comfortable in.
The Belfast Featherweight extended his unbeaten professional fight record to 11-0 with a performance of such sublime measure and class, unanimously judged to have taken every round against Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) March 18, 2019
In doing so, the Falls Road fighter made it a hat-trick of St. Patrick's Day wins at the iconic New York venue. Having made his much-anticipated pro bow in the Big Apple in 2017 in a TKO win over American Tim Ibarra, he returned last year to blitz Hungarian David Berna inside two rounds.
On this occasion, there wasn't to be another March 17th knockout for the former World Amateur champ, but last night highlighted Mick's mastery of his art, taking every opportunity he could to inflict devastating body shots on what was a weakening opponent.
It was smart, it was clinical and, in truth, it was never in doubt. And whilst Garcia Hernandez came to the ring having only been defeated by former IBF Bantamweight champ Randy Caballero and the four weight phenom that is Nonito Donaire prior to last night's punishment, the challenge for Conlan is to now make a decided shift up in class when choosing his next opponent.
Step up in class or not, Conlan has only one man on his mind.
Seared on our consciousness will forever be that famous interview in the wake of his highly controversial defeat to Vladimir Nikitin at the Rio Games in 2016. Fighting under the same promotional operation as Conlan, the Russian scraped to victory on the undercard last night, maintaining his own unbeaten start to his professional career with victory over American journeyman Juan Tapia - his third overall.
Conlan wasted little time in calling out the 28-year-old after his own victory.
Vladimir, I know you’re here tonight. We need to do it again. I want the rematch. I need to right a wrong that shouldn’t have been written.
Whilst one Belfast boxer negotiated another step on the ladder, it seems that another may have fallen from it for the last time.
Now 31, and with only seven professional bouts under his belt, the argument will always be that Paddy Barnes should maybe have considered going pro earlier than he did.
His world title heartbreak from last summer perhaps still playing on his mind, Barnes decided to make the jump to bantamweight for last night's contest with Oscar Mojica and it didn't pay dividends.
Battered, bloodied and with a broken nose for his trouble, The Leprechaun was forthright in his comments afterwards, dropping a big hint that now might be the time to call it quits.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) March 17, 2019
"I don't know how they had it close. I thought he won every round", said the former two-time Olympic bronze medallist, who was put down in the second round by his American opponent with the referee calling a slip.
To be honest, I will probably retire now. I don't think there is any point boxing on after a defeat like that.
The fans were great but at the end of the day I have to take care of my health. If I am going to box like that, then what's the point boxing anymore? I can't contest for a world title with that performance.
There was better news, however, for Limerick fighter Lee Reeves, who opened proceedings last night with a win over Edward Torres in a four-round welterweight contest, taking his record to 3-0 since turning professional late last year.