Sunday 22 April 2018

Boxing: Ali could be in my weight and I'd still win gold -- Conlan

Daragh O Conchuir

Amateur boxing in Ireland is now on a par with that of any country in the world, so when Michael Conlan says that he is aiming to win Olympic gold, you have to take him very seriously.

Each of the six-strong team travelling to London is considered a medal prospect but Conlan, who booked his ticket to London at the World Championships last October, isn't thinking about silver or bronze.

"I'm going there believing that on my day I can beat anyone," said Conlan, who was at the Aviva Stadium yesterday to help launch a new Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) initiative involving boxing in the community in Dublin.

"I know I can because I'm capable of anything when I'm on form. I don't think there will be anyone able to beat me at the Olympics."

The expectation of the media and general public could be perceived as being a burden, but Conlan is embracing the spotlight.

"We (boxers) are the only athletes that medal at the Games. Other people only go there to get placed and get PBs. We're not going for that, we're going there to do a job. I'm not going there to be second-last or second-best to anybody; I'm going there to win it. I don't see it as pressure. I'll just take it in my stride and go for it.

"I know that when I'm right -- and I know I'm going to be right for the Games -- it doesn't matter who is in my weight. Muhammad Ali could be in my weight, it doesn't bother me."

Conlan was spared the ordeal of the recent qualifiers by virtue of securing his position at the first available opportunity. And there is no doubt in his mind that this has been an advantage.

"It's given me a lot of time to rest and think about stuff and get my head straight and my preparation straight," he said.

He has definitely been keeping busy. There have been a couple of fights in Ukraine and two more in Germany. He has three more coming up. He also spars with his brother Jamie, who is a professional fighter.

Throw in the no-holds-barred sessions he shares with fellow Olympians Paddy Barnes and John Joe Nevin, and you can understand why he feels ready. For him, there will be no half-measures.

"I can't wait to get in and get it done and come out the best in the world," he vowed.

Irish Independent

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