Monday 5 December 2016

History maker Michael Conlan immediately targets Olympic gold after World Championships glory

Sean McGoldrick in Doha

Published 14/10/2015 | 18:38

Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan kisses coach Billy Walsh after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. . Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Michael Conlan has already targeted Olympic gold after been crowned bantamweight champion of the World in Doha.

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The 23-year-old Belfast man survived a knock down in the final minute to fashion a unanimous 3-0 win over his Uzbek opponent Murodjon Akhmadaliev.

He is the first Irish boxer in the 41-year history of the event to secure the gold medal and his dream of being the World, European, Commonwealth and Olympic champion lives on.

Provided he steers clear of injury Conlan – who also became a father for the first time this year – will go to Rio as one of the favourites for the gold medal and believes he can add another winning medal.

Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, kisses coach Billy Walsh after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, left, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Murodjon Akhmadaliev, right, Uzbekistan, exchanges punches with Michael Conlan, Ireland, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, right, Ireland, exchanges punches with Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, during their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, falls to the canvas during his fight against Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
14 October 2015; Michael Conlan, Ireland, celebrates with his gold medal after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. AIBA World Boxing Championships, Semi-Finals. Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Doha, Qatar. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

“World champion not much else you can say,” beamed Conlan afterwards. “I'm a bit embarrassed at getting knocked down in the last round. It is the first time I have been on the canvass in my life. He hit me right on the button.

Reflecting on the support of the Irish fans in the arena he said:

Michael Conlan kisses coach Billy Walsh after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan kisses coach Billy Walsh after beating Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Uzbekistan, in their Men's Bantamweight 56kg Final bout. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

“I have never seen anything like in my life I don't even have this support at home. I'm completely over the moon,” he said.

"I'm delighted for myself and delighted for my family. It's been a long time coming. I predicted I was going to do it, so I'm really, really happy.

"Just saying it, world champion, it's amazing. I'm looking forward to Rio. i really believe I can go there and win gold as well"

Essentially the two boxers went to war in what was a classic decider. There was understandable nervousness in the Irish camp after the way Michael O'Reilly fight had been scored half an hour earlier.

On this occasion, however, the judges went with what they observed. It looked in the early stages at Conlan would adopt a southpaw stance but essentially tactics went out the window as the pair simply traded punches at will.

Crucially Conlan edged the first round on two of the judges' cards. The Irishman upped his work rate at the start of the second round and while he shipped some knocks he delivered more than his opponent and won the round on all three judges' cards.

Now leading 20-18 on two of the judges' cards he had one hand on the gold medal but nothing can ever be taken for granted in boxing.

The pair continued to punish each other in the final round but just as the Irish were about to celebrate Conlan was sent sprawling to the canvass for the first time in his career.

He was quickly on his feet and comfortably survived the standing count. Predictably the Uzbek went for the kill but Conlan survived the remaining few seconds and he had his hand in the air well before the judges' decision was announced.

He knew his moment had arrived: he was champion of the world.

Trainer Billy Walsh paid tribute to Conlan's natural ability, stating: "He's a universal boxer, he can fight southpaw, orthodox, he can do everything. He deserves to be World Champion".

A history-making night in Doha has been rightly lauded by his peers.

“John Conlan is the main man! Helped me and Mick qualify for Rio and now is the man behind Mick’s World success!!” fellow Olympian Paddy Barnes posted on his Twitter account.

Olympic champion Katie Taylor, no stranger to gold on the big occasion, also took to social media to praise the victorious boxer.

“Amazing from @mickconlan11. Champion of the world!!! He can't be beaten! #HistoryMaker #Gold”

“World champion not much else you can say,” beamed Conlan afterwards. “I'm a bit embarrassed at getting knocked down in the last round. It is the first time I have been on the canvass in my life. He hit me right on the button.

Reflecting on the support of the Irish fans in the arena he said:

“I have never seen anything like in my life I don't even have this support at home. I'm completely over the moon,” he said.

Ireland prop Cian Healy, currently preparing for Sunday's World Cup quarter-final clash with Argentina, also congratulated the new champion.

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