Wednesday 26 November 2014

Olympic star Conlon aims for revenge

Mark Staniforth

Published 16/01/2013 | 15:42

**no repro fee** 7 Aug 2012 Michael Conlon, Ireland, celebrates a win over Nordine Oubaali, France. Men's Fly 52kg Boxing quarter finals. London 2012 Olympic Games, Boxing. South Arena 2 ExCeL Arena, Royal Victoria Dock, London, England. Picture: Caroline Quinn

IRELAND’S Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan and reigning European champion Andrew Selby from Wales resume one of amateur boxing's most compelling rivalries when the World Series of Boxing heads to Bethnal Green's historic York Hall tomorrow

Conlan will be representing the USA Knockouts franchise in the team competition while Selby intends to do his bit to extend the GB Lionhearts' unbeaten home record, but the real allure of the contest lies in the simple notion of repeat or revenge.



Selby beat Conlan by a single point in a hotly contested flyweight quarter-final in the World Championships in Baku in 2011, the Welshman going on to reach the final where he lost an equally slim verdict to Misha Aloian of Russia.



"I wouldn't say there is bad blood between us but there is certainly some tension because he won our last fight by a point and I thought I had done enough to win," the 21-year-old Conlan told the Press Association.



The pair narrowly missed the chance of a return match in the semi-finals of the London Olympics, with Selby beaten in the quarter-final by Cuba's brilliant Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana.



Carrazana went on to clearly beat Conlan in the last four, consigning the Irishman to a bronze medal which saw him return home to a hero's welcome and his own mural on the corner of his home street in west Belfast.



Thursday's bout will be the first time Conlan has fought since his defeat to the Cuban.



"It has been a very enjoyable time since the Olympics but I wouldn't say it has affected my training very much," Conlan said.



"I have been in the gym for the last 12 weeks and the only difference is I get recognised more, which the mural at the bottom of my street probably helps. It was very unexpected and a great honour for me."



While Selby was bitterly disappointed to return home from the Olympics without a medal, he remains one of the best 52kg fighters in the business, having long since shrugged off the chronic weight problems that once threatened to derail his career.



"I ate a pasty this week for the first time in ages," Selby said.



"There was a time when I couldn't eat for two days before a bout and had to spend the whole time running and skipping to get the weight off.



"It definitely affected my performances but I've got over it now and I feel so much stronger and sharper. I can't wait to get back in the ring with Michael.



"It's going to be a very tough fight. I know he's going to be wanting revenge."



Despite its rather contrived franchise system which will see two of Conlan's Ireland team-mates - John Joe Nevin and Joe Ward - lining up for the opposite side, the WSB is clearly made for the likes of Conlan and Selby, intent on keeping the lure of pros at bay.



Conlan says he is prepared to commit to Rio 2016.



He said: "It's a long way away but I definitely want to win a gold medal and I know I'm capable of it.



"The WSB gives a great incentive not to go pro because you get paid for having top fights. It makes you wonder whether it is really worth turning over. There's not so much money in the pros these days unless you're a superstar."



Selby will also stay amateur at least up to next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, when he will aim to dispel the dismal memory of his weight-drained, second round defeat to Haroon Khan in Delhi.



"I've got unfinished business with the Commonwealths and the fact it's in Glasgow makes it something great to aim for," Selby said.



"I want to go there and get a gold, and then it will be time for me to sit down and think about Rio."



At least for the time being, the rivalry between two of the world's best amateur flyweight is set to develop. Thursday night's fight will prove who has claimed the upper-hand in the post-London glow.

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