Tuesday 23 January 2018

World champion Michael Conlan confirms he will turn professional after Rio Olympics

World, European & Commonwealth Champion boxer Michael Conlan on the Sport Stage during Day 1 of the 2015 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin, Ireland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / Web Summit
World, European & Commonwealth Champion boxer Michael Conlan on the Sport Stage during Day 1 of the 2015 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin, Ireland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / Web Summit
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

He is a Commonwealth gold medal winner, the European and world champion in the bantamweight division and is currently number one in the AIBA rankings, but Michael Conlan still worries if he will be able to pay his next bill.

The Irishman was confirmed as number one in the world this week, moving to 2,150 points approaching the end of a sensational year in which he qualified for Rio 2016 through the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and claimed European and World Elite gold.

It’s been a year to remember for Conlan – and a busy one while next year will be more of the same. Conlan's ultimate goal in 2016 is the gold medal at the Rio Olympics and after that he will turn to the professional ranks, he confirmed at the Web Summit this week.

While he has enjoyed unprecedented success in the ring, life away from the gloves has also been kind to him following the birth of his daughter Luisne and engagement to fiancee Shauna Olali.

Amidst all the love and success, however, lies the anxiety of what the future holds with Conlan, amazingly, still without a sponsor ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

“It consumes a lot of time, in my head more than anything. I am worried about my next bills and stuff, it is tough but you just have to keep going,” said Conlan in the RDS this week.

“You have to put that stuff to the back of your head when you are competing.

“But it always comes back after a competition because you are thinking ‘are we going to get some support here, are we going to get some sponsorship'? Unfortunately I haven’t got any yet but hopefully I will have some for Rio.

"After that it's professional boxing for me. I have always said that."

Conlan’s training schedule is a rigorous one. He trains six days a week, four hours a day with four of those days a commute to Dublin.

The physical and mental demands can take their toll and Conlan admits there would possibly be an extra few per cent in the tank if funding worries were alleviated.

“I think it would add a further five or 10 per cent, having something less to worry about is a big advantage in any sport and for us in boxing one of our main worries is funding,” added Conlan.

Despite the challenges, Belfast man Conlan wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I have a family but they understand and they are striving for me to be the best and they all get behind me and help me a lot.

“It’s been the best year of my life. I had the World Series of Boxing which was a 14-week stint and on every week so that was very, very tough and very demanding.

“And during that time I was in my house waiting on my baby to be born, so when she was born I was actually home at the time but had to fly out the next morning. When she was coming home I had to fly out so it was a bit unfortunate. In between that I got to spend a bit of time with her and then I was away.”

 One thing Conlan is not short on is confidence.

“At the minute I think I am the best in the world and I am after proving it because I am number one in the world. That’s the confidence that is in me. I know I will go to Rio and I will win the gold, 100 per cent.”

Conlan's success comes at a small price. He is now the man to beat but they have a hell of a lot to do to take his place.

“I don’t think any opponents will want to come up and say it to me because I probably throw a few swift ones at them," he joked.

"I think someone knows they will probably be there or thereabouts but at the moment I don’t think there is anybody in arm’s length of me.”

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