By Gavan Casey
2012 Olympic bronze medalist Michael Conlan chats to DBB’s Gavan Casey about lost luggage, his plans after Rio 2016, and why he’s seeking revenge against a former opponent in Poland this Friday.
Fresh off an impressive rebound TKO victory over rugged Puerto Rican opponent Garibaldy Gomez in the World Series of Boxing, Belfast’s Michael Conlan can afford a chuckle about the ‘Geargate’ scandal which could have significantly derailed both his and Italia Thunder teammate Paddy Barnes’ respective quests to reach Rio 2016.
“Mine actually arrived an hour before the fight, so I wasn’t too bad. But I had to share protectors and all that with Paddy.
His luggage still hasn’t shown up!”
But if the destiny of his comrade’s kit remains shrouded in an unknown befitting of Aer Lingus’ current predicament, bantamweight Conlan is more concrete in visions of his own potentially sky-high ascent, as he prepares for a rematch of sorts versus Poland’s Sylwester Kozlowski this Friday.
Conlan bested his opponent in Warsaw last April to win gold at the Feliks Stamm Memorial, but the confident bantamweight plans to inflict more damage on Kozlowski in the pair’s WBS bout this weekend, as he aims to edge closer to an Olympic return next summer.
“It’s a Pole in Poland. I’ve beaten him twice before, but last year he injured me — I still won the fight but he injured me pretty badly. I’m going in there on Friday and I’m looking forward to getting a bit of revenge on him.
The WSB is the first step towards the Olympic Games for me and I’m fully focused on it. I’m in full fitness, full health. I’ve got no complaints.
So hopefully now I can go all the way to Rio and do the job.”
Though recently tipped by none other than the man himself to become the first male heir to Michael Caruth’s golden throne, the Olympic narrative certainly seemed more ambivalent last summer when Conlan hinted at a temptation to follow London 2012 teammate John Joe Nevin into the paid ranks.
His immediate goals now settled, the 23 year old seems a man at ease with the inevitable transition to the professional sport following Rio 2016.
“You’d be hungry for it, definitely. But it makes you want gold in Rio that bit more as well.
I’m looking forward to turning over pro, you know? I’ve had a lot of phone calls recently – off Golden Boy and others. And I’ve had Eddie Hearn onto me.
I have a lot of options already before the Olympics, so hopefully after the Olympics they’ll have to put millions on the table for me to sign with them!”
Conlan chuckles again.
Fans will certainly pay to watch the charismatic Commonwealth Games gold medalist when that day does arrive; observing his sparring back-and-forths with the classy Stephen Ormond in the Celtic Warrior Boxing Gym felt like daylight robbery, such was the privilege to be in attendance.
It’s conspicuous that years of elite-level High Performance training coupled with the priceless, ‘semi-pro’ experience garnered from the WSB, have culminated in an exhilarating fighting style more typical of professional crowd-pleasers.
A future share of the ITV spotlight, perhaps? Conlan maintains that no fighter — not even a certain friend and fellow Belfast native — will stand in his way.
“When I do turn over to the pros it’ll more than likely be at super-bantamweight, which is obviously Carl Frampton’s division.
I’ll be gunning for Frampton. I’ll be gunning for all of them.
Every single one of them.
And I believe I’ll be a world champion. I believe I’ll be the best in that division within three years.”
This time, no chuckle.
Starting with Rio de Janeiro next summer, fight fans may yet witness the emergence of Ireland’s own ‘Golden Boy.’
Conlan (yellow) spars with WBO #5 lightweight Stephen Ormond ahead of the Dubliner’s showdown with Terry Flanagan this Saturday.
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