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I've no regrets about Rio and now I'm ready to rumble: Conlan

By Mark Staniforth

Michael Conlan insists the filth and the fury of his combustible amateur career has stood him in good stead as he builds towards his paid debut at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day.

The Belfast 25-year-old hit headlines around the world after issuing a two-fingered salute to the officials in the wake of his highly controversial loss to Russian Vladimir Nikitin at the Rio Olympics.

But Conlan's days of battling judges as well as the elements in some of global sport's more inhospitable outposts are over after he landed a lucrative deal with promoter Bob Arum.

Conlan, who insists he has no intention of paying the 10,000 Swiss Francs fine levied against him for his outburst in Rio, said: "I have no regrets about what I did in Rio and I feel like everything that has happened since then has been a blessing.

"For about a week I was devastated and I thought it was the end of the world but the way things have worked out I don't think I'd have got such a good opportunity if I'd gone and won the gold medal.

"I've spent years in the amateurs going around the world boxing in some absolute s***holes. I spent four weeks in Kazakhstan in a cabin with no internet when it was snowing outside.

"I went to Venezuela - the hotel was nice but it was surrounded by favelas and you couldn't go out without an armed guard.

"And now here I am getting ready to fight at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day - the biggest holiday for the whole of Ireland. It's all a dream come true for me."

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