Boxing: 'Uncut diamond' Conlon set to sparkle
MICHAEL CONLON believes that if he brings his 'A' game to the ring he can get Ireland off to a winning start at the AIBA World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Azerbaijan today.
The dynamic Belfast flyweight opens Ireland's campaign versus European bronze medalist Alexandr Riscan of Moldova in their last-64 bout in Baku this afternoon.
Conlon, described by Irish team manager Des Donnelly as an "uncut diamond", claimed his first Irish Elite title at the National Stadium in Dublin earlier this year.
The 19-year-old edged out Ireland's Olympic Youth champion Ryan Burnett of the Holy Family BC in Belfast 4-3 en route to glory at the home of Irish boxing.
Burnett comfortably beat Azerbaijan's Salman Alizida, who is ranked No 1 in AIBA's world senior rankings, to claim Olympic Youth gold in Singapore in 2010.
Riscan reached the semi-finals of the 2011 European Championships in Turkey, where he dropped a landslide 24-12 decision to Welsh puncher Andy Selby, who went on to win gold.
Conlon, who boxes out of the St John Bosco BC, and Riscan are on familiar terms as they sparred at Ireland's training camp in Cologne, Germany earlier this month. However, neither boxer will be pulling any punches this afternoon.
"I've beaten a lot of the top in the world this year. I beat the No 3, the No 6 and the No 7," said Conlon, who will be the only Irish boxer in action today. "If I can do what I can do, I'll qualify and get a medal. If I perform the way I know I can perform, I'll do well on the day."
Meanwhile, Ken Egan will face Jose Gomez-Larduet in the last-32 next Monday. The Cuban stopped Lubos Velecky of the Czech Republic in the first round yesterday.
Gomez-Larduet, who won bronze at light-heavyweight at the 2009 AIBA World Senior Championships in Milan, was 14-2 up with 40 seconds to go to the bell for the end of the first.
Monday's duel with the Cuban will be Egan's first competitive bout at heavyweight outside of Ireland -- and his third 91kg fight overall -- since he moved up from light-heavyweight.
Paddy Barnes will also be in action for the first time next Monday. The Belfast man will meet Mark Anthony Barriga of the Philippines in the last-32 stage of proceedings.
Barriga beat Stefan Caslarov of Romania 12-5 yesterday to set up the light-flyweight three-rounder with Ireland's 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 European champion. details in factfile