Photos from Michael Conlan's Chicago fight

Photos from Michael Conlan's Chicago fight

All Photos by Steven B. Weinberg/Frontproof Media

By Steven B. Weinberg | Contributing Writer/Photographer

Published: June 6, 2017

CHICAGO - Last month, Top Rank Boxing returned to Chicago for the first time in ten years. Hoping to cash in on Chicago’s large Irish population, Irish Olympic standout Michael Conlan headlined the show. In Conlan’s professional debut, he sold out The Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

In this, his second professional fight, the UIC Pavilion was unfortunately, less than half full. It may have been from torrential rainstorms, bringing the City to a virtual standstill, or it may have been because of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Nonetheless, Top Rank had worked hard to promote Conlan, holding a pre-fight meet and greet at a Southside Irish boxing club, and press conference at a famous steakhouse. On fight night, before the main event, a video montage of boxing legends such as Hagler, Leonard, Hearns, Duran, and Arguello was shown -- insinuating that Conlan will one day join their ranks.   

As expected, Conlan (2-0, 2 KOs) easily defeated his grossly over matched opponent, Alfredo Chanez (4-5, 2 KO), in a featherweight bout. Conlan battered Chavez around the ring, seemingly at will, scoring a knockdown in the first, blooding Chanez’s nose in the second, and ultimately scoring a TKO in the third with a body shot. After the fight, Conlan stated that he was not happy with his performance and that dealing with opponents like Chanez is “par for the course” as he builds his record, and hoped that he will soon face a challenge.

Super lightweight prospect and Abel Sanchez trained Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo (25-0, 15 KO) faced off against Wilberth Lopez (18-, 13 KO) in the co-main event. Saucedo came out strong, staggering Lopez with an overhand right early and then scoring a late knockdown in the first round.  Unfortunately, the next seven rounds were largely listless. Lopez moved from corner to corner as Saucedo was unable to cut-off the ring and never mounted a sustained attacked. While Saucedo earned an eight round unanimous decision, if he wants to move beyond “prospect,” he will have to do a much better job cutting off the ring, especially if he ever faces a higher caliber opponent than Lopez.

 Former WBO Super Lightweight champion “Mile High” Mike Alvarado (37-4, 25 KOs) returned to the ring for the first time in a year, this time as a welterweight, to face Matthew Strode (24-5, 9 KOs). Alvarado, known for his brawler style, was true to form as he kept his hands high, bent at the waist, and walked-down Strode to do his work on the inside. It paid off with a first round knock down. The second round was more of the same, with Alvarado at one time landing at least eight unanswered punches. Ultimately, without Strode ever hitting the canvas, the ref gave Strode a standing eight-count and then waived off the fight, giving Alvarado a second round TKO.  After the fight Alvarado said he has cleansed his life, is rejuvenated, hoping to get title fight, and is headed right back to the gym because he loves what he does. At 36 years old, it is highly unlikely that Alvarado will ever hold a title again.  But we certainly are glad to hear that he has cleaned up his life, and that his demons are seemingly behind him.         

 Robert Garcia protégé, Joseph Adorno (4-0, 4 KOs), squared off against David Quay (0-2-1) in a superfeather weight bout. Adorno scored 3 knockdowns in the first round and earned a TKO at the 2:59 mark. In a bit of comic relief, Quay repeatedly corkscrewed himself around when he was able to throw a punch. He has now been knocked out in two of his three professional fights and should probably look for a new profession.

 In cruiserweight action, Qu Peng (8-1-0-1, 6 KOs) knocked down Robbie Mendez (4-3, 5 KOs) with his first punch, a straight right to Mendez’s chin, and scored two more knockdowns before earning a TKO at 1:54 of the opening round.

After six uneventful rounds, Egidijus Kavaliauskas (17-0, 14 KOs), managed by Egis Klimas, scored a seventh round knockout over Daniel Echeverria (19-5, 16 KOs) in a welterweight bout. The fact that Kavaliauskas is managed by Klimas is an indication that he is may be someone to contend with in the future.  

 In the evening’s opening fight, lightweights Kevin Ventura (6-0, 5 KOs) and Israel Rojas (10-16 3 KOs) squared off.  Ventura scored two knockdowns within the first minute of the second round, ultimately earning a TKO at the 1:02 mark.  

 There is an argument that boxing fans want knockouts.  If that is the case, Top Rank delivered with six of the night’s seven fights ending with early stoppages.  But knockouts are not exciting when the bouts are so completely one sided that the end is inevitable.  When that is the case, those responsible for the mismatched affairs are doing a disservice to the fans and to the sport of boxing.  If Top Rank’s return to Chicago means it views the City as a possible growth opportunity, the growth will be stunted if it continues its poor match making - undoubtedly in the name of padding records in hopes of building up fighters for larger venues.  

Steven B. Weinberg is a Chicago attorney and Contributing Writer/Photographer for Frontproof Media. You can follow Steven's work here or on his Flickr page

(Feature photo: Steven B. Weinberg/Frontproof Media)

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