CONNOR Coyle made a hugely impressive return to the ring in Florida on Saturday night with a dominant eight round victory over experienced American, Travis Scott.
The Derry middleweight ducked between the ropes at the Coliseum in St Petersburg following an eight months injury enforced hiatus and stretched his unbeaten record to 9-0.
And the slick puncher looked as if he’d never been away as he controlled the fight from the first bell with two of the State of Florida judges awarding him a lop-sided 80-70 decision.
The other ringside judge gave Coyle a 79-71 points victory, somehow awarding Scott a round despite the Galliagh man’s undoubted superiority over the duration of the eight rounds.
In fact Scott twice hit the canvas in the third in an impressive 10-7 round for Coyle and he never looked in danger.
On paper, it was Coyle’s toughest test since turning to the paid ranks in October 2016 with the 38 year-old Scott (19-4-0) looking to get his career back on track and searching for his 20th pro victory.
However, Coyle, featuring on the UFC Fight Pass event, dealt with him superbly from the offset and his slick performance earned him the plaudits from multiple world champion turned promoter, Roy Jones Jnr. and UFC President, Dana White.
And Coyle is hoping it’s the start of bigger and better things for him in 2019.
“The fight went according to plan,” he said. “We planned to stay composed and calm, and just out-boxed the experienced Scott Travis.
“He was very, very tough, I caught him some very hard punches and he was shaken up a few times but he continued to fight on which was down to his experience.”
Always the aggressor, Coyle timed his jab to perfection and despite Scott’s tendency to switch stances, the Derry man was always in control and came out unscathed after the eight rounds.
It was a disciplined display and when the opportunity arose Coyle struck with some big right hands to the head and body which went unanswered by Scott.
A huge right landed to the side of the American’s head at the start of the third round and swelling began around the left eye of Travis.
He was floored with 32 seconds remaining in the round after another bruising double right cross. Coyle came out strong looking for the finish and landed another flush right which shook his opponent, and after a quickfire combination Scott took a knee and another standing eight count before the bell came to his rescue.
Coyle totally outclassed the man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and felt he could’ve ended the fight had he been on top of his game.
“I feel if I had a fight before this fight, I would have been able to finish the fight within a few rounds,” added the former St Joseph’s ABC clubman.
“But it was a great window for me to gain exposure. I’ve opened up a lot of eyes and the phone has been ringing non-stop since Saturday night.
“I’m very grateful to all my fans in Derry who tuned in to support me on my debut on UFC Fight Pass too. Thank you to everyone that tuned in.
“Dana White and Roy Jones Jr. liked what they seen in me on Saturday night too and they definitely want me back on another card again soon as Main Event, possibly in April.”
Coyle will return home to Derry but he doesn’t plan on taking his foot off the gas and will go straight back into training at St Joseph’s ABC.
“I will come home and continue training as normal in St Joseph’s Boxing club with Cahir (Duffy) and the coaches, as I don’t want to miss anymore big opportunities.
“I want this year to be big, and make things happen. I came out of fight fresh, not a mark on me, injury free. I could go another 12 rounds this week,” he claimed.
“I’d like thank all my sponsors who supported me; Classique Floor Designs Paul’s Butchers The Metro Bar The Bentley Bar S.Co, James McClean G&K Contracts, Ace Blinds, Butties, Olympus Fitness, Frankie Ramsey’s and Evolve Menswear.
A big thanks also to Cahir Duffy for all the hours he’s worked with me in the gym. He gets me to another level each time and I’d like to thank my girlfriend, Eva for coming the whole way over to support me again.”