Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish
By: Francisco Martinez
Bronze medalist and 2x Olympian amateur standout Michael Conlan debuts March 17th in New York at the Madison Square Garden on a Friday that so happens to land on a St. Patrick’s Day but this time around as we tap into our inner Irishman and drink a pint or two we will be treated to a memorable Top Rank promotions event. Headlined by the young lad Conlan who many remember from this past year’s 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro where Conlan was favored to bring back gold to his home country of Belfast, Northern Ireland but instead the young Irish hopeful saw his dreams of Olympic gold shattered in what he felt was a decision influenced by AIBA corruption.
Now the highly touted Top Rank promotions signee sets his eyes on a road to a different kind of gold. A world title that former pugilist and now Conlan’s manager Matthew Macklin expects from his young eccentric fighter “I think Michael will go all the way. Guaranteed he’d be world champion. He’s a special talent and I think by the people at Top Rank he’ll be maneuvered into a PPV star” high expectations not just from his manager but his brother as well, current WBO Inter-Continental 115lbs champ Jamie Conlan “I get more nervous for him than when I fight myself. It’s because it’s outta my control. I do believe he is the best fighter in the world. He was the best amateur in the world. He’s just now coming, he’s a rookie in the pros but he’s come to the right man who’s gonna bring him along perfectly. I believe in Manny (Robles) and what I’ve learned in these 3 weeks or more, over 3 weeks of being out here (in Los Angeles) in their environment is that he certainly in the right hands. In really good hands with Manny who’s not gonna rush him. He is building him along perfectly and slowly but surely will mature him into a world champion”
Being about 5 thousand miles away from home Michael Conlan is not too far from his comfort zone having been joined by fellow lads in brother Jamie Conlan, Tyrone McKenna & 2 time Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes who are set to fight on February 18th along with his fiancé & daughter who are key to his journey as a fighter “It’s great having them here it does make me feel at home…my fiancé & daughter are here and for me that’s very important. I don’t think I would be able to be on this journey without them. Having them here it’s very important to me”
BoxingInsider.com: “Being from Ireland how have you adapted now here in California? How do you take to the change? The Culture?”
Michael Conlan: “Its great. I think since I’ve started working with Manny since November, when we got together I think it was instant. A great connection right away. It usually takes me a long time to get used to a new coach but with Manny I was ready. The first day I was in the gym I felt we were used to each other already so that was great for me. The lifestyle out here you can’t beat it. It’s the sun. Once you wake up to the sunny weather it’s a lot easier than when you are in Ireland waking up to rain everyday or else a cold morning. So when you wake up to the sun you’re always gonna be happy so I’m happy to be here”
BoxingInsider.com: “Manny do you feel the same about the connection with Michael?”
Manny Robles: “Absolutely, absolutely. He’s a kid that is humble. Very important in a individual. This kid is a good kid. We’re dealing with a good boxer but more important than anything else more important than dealing with a good boxer is we’re dealing with a good human being. It’s always nice to be around talent of course. Talented fighters like Michael but now that I’ve had a chance to meet his dad (who came from Ireland) I can understand why he’s such a good kid. His dad has done a great job raising him and keeping him grounded. That’s the most important thing. Everything else, the talent is extra”
Michael Conlan: “Fighting is (the) fun time. This is (the) hard work. Fighting is where we go and have fun and we do what we have practiced. What we put into practice and we get the victory we’ll enjoy it. Unlike when you gotta wake up and your body is in pain and you come in here and Manny beats the shit outta you on the pads. That’s the hard work. That’s where it all stems from you know. When you have a good coach like him pushing you every single day what more do you want?”
After a controversial decision in Rio 2016 that shattered his dreams of Olympic gold Michael Conlan expressed his even more controversial thoughts & emotions regarding the judges questionable decision by calling them “cheats” & “cheating bastards” which only made matters worse as the AIBA in return hitting him with a hefty fine of €9,300 euros. These past Olympics also saw the removable of a combined 36 referees & judges pending an internal investigation that lasted about a 4 month period . Having had his differences with AIBA Conlan had this to say about the final results of the AIBA investigation claiming no foul play.
“I think it’s shit to be honest. I think it’s bullshit because the judges are still sacked. They’re not coming back. I think they have found something but they don’t want to admit wrong doing cause it opens up, it kind of ruins it for everybody”
For those casual boxing fans who don’t know Michael Conlan’s style or have never seen him fight manager Matthew Macklin describes him as a complete fighter as he goes on to say “I think he’s a pretty complete fighter. He can box, that’s probably his best attribute he’s a really good boxer. He’s really smart. He’s tall for his weight. He hits quite hard but he can also sit in the pocket and fight in the inside and his experience and his self belief. He really believes in himself which is key. He really, really does believe in himself and he’s backed it up. He’s a bronze medalist as a 20 year old in the Olympics. He was commonwealth (games) gold medalist. European (amateur championships) gold medalist and best boxer of the tournament, world amateur champion. He should’ve won the gold medal, we believe in Rio. He lost out in the quarter finals to a very, very bad decision. So his international experience is 2nd to none and he has the right team around him. He’s got a great stable here at the rock gym (in Carson, CA) great sparring, Oscar Valdez (WBO 126lbs champion) Jessie Magdaleno (WBO 122lbs champion) just to name 2. I think everything is going right for him”
There’s high expectations from everyone in Michael Conlan’s team as a whole but it also seems the young lad has gotten the stamp of approval by fellow Irishman UFC PPV star Conor McGregor who promised to carry the Irish flag upon walking him out into the ring for his massive debut. With all this going into Conlan’s pro debut it can only make you anticipate what future plans legendary promoter Bob Arum may have for Conlan given the huge success Arum has had not just with Mexican & American fighters but foreign pugilists as well having produce Manny Pacquiao one of boxing’s biggest PPV stars and Vasyl Lomachenko considered my many to be pound for pound the best fighter alive today. Tune in March 17th St. Patrick’s Day in Manhattan, New York at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca Of Boxing for Michael Conlan’s debut set to be Televised on UniMas.