THE future for Michael Conlan is unclear following his seventh-round stoppage defeat to Jordan Gill at the SSE Arena on Saturday night.

It was always a fight that had danger warnings surrounding it, but Conlan just couldn't make his move up to super-featherweight a productive one as he was dropped in the second and although rallied well, was stopped in the seventh as a right to the head stung him and the follow-up assault saw the argument ended with Gill claiming the WBA International super-featherweight title.

Perhaps some may feel the stoppage was a little premature as the majority of the shots from Gill's assault didn't appear to be landing clean, but Howard Foster was closest to the pair and decided enough was enough.

Conlan has promised to be back to his old self and there were certainly flashes of that, but other times in which he just couldn't contain the visitor who arrived in the city with the bit between his teeth.

"It's the fighter's decision but it's very difficult to come back from that," said promoter, Eddie Hearn.

"He's a guy who wants to challenge for a world title and he lost for a world title, which is fair enough, nut now to get beat again is going to be very difficult to come back.

"Maybe you think the defeats are weight related but move to 130 and get stopped.

""I always felt Jordan Gill had the potentially to become a world-class fighter and I think tonight he proved that. He isn't an elite 130 yet - he could go onto be - but I think Michael will reflect on that and think about his future."

The home favourite opened up out of the orthodox stance, using his feet to circle and pick his shots. he began brightly but Gill was quick to push forward in an effort to make this a fight on the inside, prompting a switch to southpaw for the Belfast man.

Gill, a close friend of Leigh Wood who stopped Conlan last March in Nottingham, claimed the advice from Wood in the build-up was simply to hit Conlan in the jaw and he did just that with a thunderous left hook that had the Belfast man on the floor.

He rose, but was stung as Gill went for the finish, but Conlan managed to see out the assault and appeared composed again early in the third, a short right of his own seeming to be a huge boost as he stood and let his hands go. But he would take another big shot of his own towards the end of the round as blood seeped from the nose.

Conlan seemed content to stand and trade, digging in shots to the body as Gill covered and waited for his own moments to pounce and the Englishman was again flush with shots that seemed to have more meat on them than his record of eight stoppages from 27 wins suggested, perhaps the move to super-featherweight vindicated in that regard.

But Conlan would enjoy a good fifth, getting back to doing what he promised in the build-up by using his feet, skills and counters to land and largely stay out of trouble.

He was still plantings feet and aiming to the body, but Gill's tight defence was giving little by way of a target.

Back came Gill with heavy fire I the sixth, only for Conlan to employ the uppercut and it was working a treat with two in quick succession followed by a third and a fourth - blood now from Gill's nose.

Conlan goes down in the second

Conlan goes down in the second

Conlan was warned at the beginning of the seventh for a little big of afters at the bell of the previous round and Gill perhaps decided to take his own revenge, marching forward and showing heavy fire.

 the end when it came stemmed from Conlan ducking out of a right hand but take it to the top of the head and sent him into a corner.

Gill went for the finish and did get through with one or perhaps two shots, others blocked or off target, yet referee Howard Foster felt he had seen enough and stepped in after 1.09 of the round.

It was not the night the home crowd had expected and certainly not Conlan or his team. Gill revealed afterwards the personal troubles he has endured over the past 12 months, but this win will see him turn a major corner in life and his career as it is he who will now look at the big nights, while Conlan, now 18-3, is left with a decision to make.