Michael Conlan took the latest step on his journey to a world title on Saturday night but he flirted with disqualification along the way.
Making his first appearance of the year, Michael Conlan left it late to earn the eighth stoppage of his perfect professional career.
Conlan got his hand raised in York Hall after stopping opponent Sofiane Takoucht in the tenth round but he teetered too close to disqualification for comfort in the earlier stages of the bout.
Midway through a dominant performance, the Belfast fighter was deducted two points – one in round four and one in round five – for a couple of low blows and one more might well have tested the patience of referee Steve Gray.
But once Conlan picked his body shots up and repeatedly found what he later described as “the sweet spot”, he began wearing Takoucht down.
And after a furious flurry of shots in the tenth round, the referee had seen enough and waved the contest off, awarding Conlan his 14th consecutive victory since turning professional in 2017.
Reflecting on the bout, Conlan told BT Sport: “I didn’t mean to throw the low blows, but I just love to hit them in the sweet spot and there’s a fine line.
“It is hard to adjust mid-feet, and a lot of the shots must have swayed low.
“I am happy with the win though.
“I don’t have a clue what happens next. I leave it to my team. But I will be ready.
“I did what I said I would do. I said I would break him down and take him out. It might have been the last round but I did it.”
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