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Michael Conlan will return to the ring in New York on St. Patrick’s Day. Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank / Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Michael Conlan won the WBO international super bantamweight title with a 2-0 win over native Romanian Ionut Baluta after a 12-round Bout won at London’s York Hall.

The win extends the Belfast Boxer’s unbeaten run to 15-0, but this was a rusty feat from the former amateur world champion, who fought in this weight class for the first time since his professional debut in 2017 .

The judges’ scorecards reflected the uneven performance of Conlan. While one official on the ring scored the fight between 117 and 112 for the winner, another official gave him the closest victory between 115 and 114, while the third official scored between 114 and 114.

Madrid-based Baluta has won two Irish fighters in the last two fights, former world champion TJ Doheny and Olympian David Oliver Joyce.

He called himself the “Irish Slayer” in the build-up of the competition and while Conlan Baluta inflicted a third pro defeat, the performance was less convincing.

The jury remains open as to whether he will win a world title in this division can win. But at least the win keeps the momentum behind Conlan’s career going.

In fairness it was his first fight since last August and in the meantime he sustained an ankle injury in training that could have compromised his confidence.

Baluta was a particularly clumsy opponent, but at least Conlan remained a majority judgment nightmare and he will continue this with the preparation for the world title and a possible clash with the WBO defending champion Stephen Fulton from the USA.

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