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Fired-up Conlan cannot wait to turn on the style

 

By David Kelly

Few fighters in recent times have had such hyperbole surrounding the start of a professional career and Michael Conlan is riding the wave like those expert surfers off the beaches of Los Angeles, now his adopted home, as he looks to climb the boxing ladder.

St Patrick's night in Madison Square Garden seemed to be everything he could have dreamed of for a professional debut and now the bandwagon rolls into Chicago for a six-rounder against Mexican Alfredo Chanez in the UIC Pavilion.

The Belfast man simply loves to be at the centre of it all, in the same manner that his childhood hero Prince Naseem Hamed lapped up all the attention flowing his way as he brought his own brand of showmanship to boxing.

Hamed divided opinion with his brash persona but Conlan was firmly in his corner and admits the former World featherweight champion has had an influence on how he presents himself to the boxing public.

"My brother Jamie hated Hamed but I loved him. I always watched him and wanted him to win - I loved the showmanship he brought to boxing, the way he entertained the fans and that's what I want to do," said Conlan, who while victorious in the Garden after strolling to the ring in his top hat believes his performance was far from what he expected.

"I would have given myself an F if I was grading myself. I know how good I can be. I didn't show just how good I am and maybe that was to do with all the pressure that surrounded that fight.

"Some guys wouldn't have the build-up I had for my debut when they're fighting for a World title. It seemed that the whole world was watching and I suppose I did well to handle it all. This time things are very different - there's still a lot of interest but not quite the same expectation.

"Also, the work I've done in the gym over the past couple of months has been great with my coach Manny Robles so you're going to see a much better performance.

"I just can't wait to get in there and get it done. I've been looking forward to it, I've got a few fights and a lot coming up so I want to get it going after all the waiting around. It feels like forever since the debut, so I'm glad I'll be back.

"It's been great working with Manny, I feel like I'm improving all the time. I've just worked hard as usual and put all the work in during my camp. He's happy with how I'm progressing so if he's happy then I'm happy."

That work has included some top sparring with notable names such as World champions Jessie Magdaleno, the WBO super-bantamweight title holder, and featherweight star Oscar Valdez.

"I'm sparring with World champions and title contenders," Conlan said. "My sparring is harder than the fights.

"You're learning every day in the gym. Working with fighters like Oscar and Jessie is something that is very valuable.

"They are where I want to be. I learn off them, watch what they do, watch them train. It was fantastic to see how hard they train. To be around them is an honour and to spar them is a complete pleasure."

Should all go to plan in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Conlan will turn his sights to a third fight on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title defence against Jeff Horn on July 2 in Brisbane, Australia.

Meanwhile, Kell Brook hopes to realise his uncle's prophecy tomorrow night and successfully defend his World title at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane.

The 31-year-old Blades fan has been a frequent visitor to the venue for his IBF World Welterweight title defence against undefeated American Errol Spence Jr, recalling childhood memories of when he was considerably lighter and able to be tossed into the air in celebration.

"I want it with all my heart," Brook said. "I've been coming down here since I was seven. My uncle Johnny told me that I would defend my World title here one day. He said, 'You will box and you will defend your World title'. It's a dream come true for me, for the city. I want to go out there and put a great show on for everybody."

• Conlan v Chanez is live on BoxNation in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Buy now at www.boxnation.com

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