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Fired-up Michael Conlan is ready to strike gold in Bulgaria

By Frank Brownlow

Michael Conlan has pledged to be the golden boy today when he fights Qais Ashfaq for the European title in Samokov, Bulgaria.

The bantamweight final will be a rematch after the Belfast boxer and the Leeds fighter met in the Commonwealth Games decider in Glasgow last year, with Conlan prevailing to win the goal medal.

And the 23-year-old, who collected bronze in the London 2012 Olympics, stressed that nothing less then gold will do.

"I am here to win gold. The European Championships are very tough and I want to go home with gold," said Conlan, who beat Francesco Maietta in yesterday's semi-final.

Conlan produced a controlled display against the Italian to earn a unanimous points decision.

Conlan progressed to the European final by beating Maietta on a score of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.

Conlan, who took silver in the flyweight division at the 2013 European Championships, guaranteed a place at the World Championships in Qatar in October with his quarter-final win over Denmark's Frederick Jensen.

He has already secured a place at next summer's Rio Olympics after which he is expected to turn professional. The fighter's brother Jamie is already well established in the paid ranks.

Irish team-mate Joe Ward took a big step towards regaining his light-heavyweight title with a semi-final points win over Croatian top seed Hrvoje Sep.

Ward will meet Peter Mullenberg of the Netherlands in today's final.

Belfast Telegraph

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