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Boxing events in New York City are special and this was no different. Top Rank Boxing was held at the Hulu Theatre at MSG, an intimate setting with no bad seats to be found with the crowd being close to the action.
The eight-bout card was highlighted by the 10-round main event between former welterweight champ and slick southpaw Luis Collazo from Queens and seasoned veteran Samuel Vargas from Canada. The co-feature was undefeated WBO featherweight champ Michael Conlan from Ireland (making his US debut) against little known Ruben Garcia Hernandez from Mexico.
In the main event, the fight started off slow as they felt each other out. With little action and lots of movement, Vargas got off first, throwing punches and staying busy. Collazo tried to establish his jab but was less active in the first round.
In the second round, Vargas started working Collazo’s body. Collazo still not as busy as his corner wanted, he began head hunting. After settling in, Collazo began to let his hands go, scoring on combinations while Vargas continued to battle back.
Towards the end of the round, there was an accidental head butt by Vargas. Collazo was checked out by the ring doctor but no damage was done.
The pace picked up in the middle rounds after Collazo started to take control of the fight. Vargas’ plan was to keep pressure on Collazo and crowd him but Collazo kept his distance and started to find his target.
He also began to throw fight with more conviction and landed the cleaner, more meaningful punches. To Vargas’ credit, he stayed busy and kept throwing punches. Yet, Collazo built such a big lead in those rounds with boxing and strategy that Vargas needed a knockout to win.
The final round saw Collazo moving around the ring staying away from Vargas, who kept coming forward. Vargas connected some but it was too little, too late. In the end, Collazo won split decision over a very game Vargas.
Michael Conlan defeats Ruben Garcia Hernandez
In the “Special Attraction” bout, crowd favorite Conlan got the fight started landing the first big punch. After a short feeling out period, Conlan began connecting on head shots as well as going to the body.
Hernandez wasn’t throwing many punches and Conlan took advantage by landing clean combinations. During the second round, Conlan turned southpaw to confuse Hernandez even more which worked.
Hernandez began missing wildly and looked lost. Conlan took control of the fight going on cruise control. At one point, Hernandez connected with a good left but Conlan smiled back at him.
Hernandez looked overmatched from the hand speed and pin point accuracy of the Ireland native. The early body work by Conlan paid off late as Hernandez had nothing left.
Conlan tried to put Hernandez away, even stunning him with a hard left but Hernandez survived. Conlan won by unanimous decision.