Michael Conlan continued his march toward a featherweight title shot Saturday by stopping Diego Alberto Ruiz in the ninth round at Falls Park in Conlan's hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The 10-round bout was the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN+ card.
Conlan (12-0, 7 KOs), 27, sent Ruiz to the canvas with a right hook to the body in the ninth, then pounced on the Argentina native with a series of follow-up punches before referee Michael Alexander waved off the fight at 1 minute, 34 seconds.
But while it was an emphatic finish for Conlan, for the most part it was a monotonous and uneventful fight that looked more like a sparring session than a live bout. Conlan was never pressed by Ruiz (21-3, 10 KOs), who seemed content to just survive one round after another and never truly attempted to push Conlan.
Perhaps the lone memorable moment of Ruiz's night came in the seventh round, when his father and trainer, Ruben Ruiz, jumped onto the ring apron to protest what he felt was an intentional rabbit punch to the back of his son's head. Technically, that could have been grounds for disqualification, but the bout was allowed to continue.
Throughout much of the fight, Conlan fluctuated between boxing out of the orthodox and southpaw stances. Occasionally, he would plant his feet on the inside and bang away to the body of Ruiz. A two-time Irish Olympian, Conlan is an immensely popular figure in his country, but he has still yet to really settle into a professional style.
"This is only the start," Conlan said. "I believe this is the first performance that I've performed at a certain level, but I've got more levels to go, and I believe I can be at that level."
Asked which of the current featherweight titleholders he'd like to face, Conlan said, "Any of them."
Conlan is rated fifth by the WBO, sixth by the WBA and 12th by the IBF.