Macroom battler Noel Murphy defeated in tough bout at Madison Square Garden

Macroom battler Noel Murphy defeated in tough bout at Madison Square Garden

Noel Murphy, Macroom,  lands one on Adam Mate in the welterweight fight at Neptune last summer. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

NOEL MURPHY lost his bid for the IBF North American super-lightweight title against Josue 'The Prodigy' Vargas at New York's Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

But the Macroom braveheart earned plenty of plaudits for a gutsy performance against a highly-rated opponent.

Vargas earned a generous 98-92 verdict on all three cards, the Bronx-based fighter winning eight of the ten rounds in the battle of the southpaws.

The Puerto Ric-born lefty rocked Murphy in the seventh frame and finished with a flourish in the 10th, but the Leesider kept coming back at him.

Vargas improved to 16 wins from 17 outings after the verdict, and Murphy dropped to 14 wins, a draw and two losses.

"Noel boxed well. He fought very well and gave it absolutely everything as you would expect "said Kevin Crowley who was working Murphy's corner with Tom Power.

"Vargas was a Top Rank fighter on a (Top Rank) show, and we knew he was going to get the close rounds. There were some very close rounds, and he got them.

"We'll regroup now and take the Christmas off. We'll see what's happening in the New Year. We weren't thinking beyond this fight.

"At ringside, everybody thought they were well matched tonight. So, there'll be more fights for Noel on Top Rank cards in the future"

Meanwhile, two-time Irish Olympian Michael Conlan exacted a measure of revenge versus Vladimir Nikitin on the MSG undercard.

The Belfast feather, an overwhelming favourite with the bookies, posted a unanimous decision - 100-90,99-91,98-92- over the Russian brawler in a repeat of their highly controversial Rio 2016 quarter-final which Nikitin won.

Al 36 referees and judges were suspended after that, and other controversial results in Rio and the decision of the International Olympic Committee to ban the International Boxing Association from any involvement with Tokyo 2020 has its roots in the Rio debacle.

Nikitin, who legitimately beat Conlan in the 2013 World quarter-final, worked hard at the Garden but unbeaten Conlan was full value for his 13th successive win.

The London 2012 bronze medallist also claimed the WBO Inter-Continental title after putting the record straight from the 31st Olympiad.

He'll be back at the Garden for a headline bout on St Patrick's Day and could meet Jessie Magdaleno in a world title shot in Belfast next August.

"We're not even talking about that (World titles). We're just going to enjoy this. It was a great fight and Michael is happy," said his dad John Conlan, an IABA High-Performance coach who works Macroom welter Christina Desmond's corner in the amateur ranks.

Unbeaten Terence Crawford stopped Egidijus Kavaliauskas to retain his WBO World welter belt and improve to 36 wins in the main event at MSG.

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