Michael Conlan ready to deliver as Ruiz faces Falls cauldron at Féile
Conlan never before has that well-worn phrase "I'll fight him in his own back yard" been more appropriate as Diego Alberto Ruiz steps forward into the cauldron of the Falls Park tonight to engage local hero Michael Conlan.
A crowd of 10,000 will descend on the park, and the level of expectation could hardly be higher as Conlan prepares to kick off what could be a three-fight charge to world-title success.
"I had a few fights outside the ring in the Falls Park so to now be headlining there at the Féile is very special and there is a real buzz about this event," said Conlan.
"There's no denying the expectation on me and I believe this stage demands a special performance from me.
"It means so much to me to have this opportunity to box in the Falls Park where I grew up and I believe this will be the best performance of my career.
"I've been under this kind of microscope since day one, the massive TV and media interest has been there after everything that happened in Rio 2016 but I feel that everything I have done so far has prepared me for this - every fight, every night at Madison Square Garden… it's all been leading to a moment like this.
"So, I have visualised what I can expect to see and feel as I come out to the arena and I will embrace it but once I step through the ropes then it is all about being cool, calm and collected because I have business to take care of."
For all the hyperbole surrounding his career, Conlan knows that as a professional with only 11 fights there is still experience to be gained and knowledge to be absorbed in order to rise to the peaks he desires.
Indeed, this WBA/WBO inter-continental bout with Ruiz arrives at a critical juncture in his progression as he seeks to deliver a clinical performance that puts the world on notice that the Belfast man is truly on the march.
"Ruiz will see this as his golden ticket. All the pressure is on me so he can come in and go for it and I understand that. I'm excited and nervous as well because I know what I can do and I know it's time to do it. I'm keeping a cool head," added Conlan.
"This fight is one where you will see the best of me. "I believe Ruiz is the right opponent at the right time because he's a guy who is confident, who's coming to take my head off and someone who will leave openings and I will make him pay.
"You will see a new dimension to my game, everything has been more professional. I have gone up levels.
"The mindset I've had is the mindset I need to be a world champion and to beat world champions."
Michael Conlan v Diego Alberto Ruiz
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