Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Conlan enters defining time

On the verge: Jamie Conlan’s career can really take off if he gets the better of Gabor Molnar at the Waterfront Hall on Friday night, according to promoter Barry McGuigan
On the verge: Jamie Conlan’s career can really take off if he gets the better of Gabor Molnar at the Waterfront Hall on Friday night, according to promoter Barry McGuigan

Jamie Conlan has had his fair share of frustration but on Friday night at the Waterfront Hall he intends to maintain a wave of momentum now surrounding his career.

Manager John Breen believes that victory over Hungarian Gabor Molnar in a defence of his WBO European super-flyweight title defence on the Cyclone Promotions show will kick off a crucial year for the Belfast man.

"I think the next 12 months could define Jamie's career," said Breen.

"He's 27 now and, now that he is having regular fights, he is moving quickly into world title contention. I would think that within 12 months, maybe by the start of 2015, Jamie would be ready for a WBO title shot.

"At the moment, he is ranked 11th by the WBO and a win on Friday night at the Waterfront should put him into the top ten."

Breen has managed and coached Conlan throughout his professional career and has no doubt that, given the opportunity, he will go to the very top.

Those opportunities have come and gone but, on the back of his WBO European title victory at the Odyssey earlier this year, Conlan is now on a roll.

Indeed, it is rather perplexing why the British Boxing Board of Control have not ordered him to box for the vacant British super-flyweight title on the back of champion Paul Butler winning the IBF bantamweight belt.

But for the moment, Conlan's sole focus is on Molnar and taking another step along the road to bigger nights.

Both Conlan and top of the bill Marc McCullough are seeking to grab the boxing spotlight, while Northern Ireland's number one sporting hero Carl Frampton counts down to his IBF World super-bantamweight title fight with Kiko Martinez on September 6.

Frampton has already proved his worth at world class level and Conlan can do the same, according to coach Breen.

"One of the improvements I've seen in Jamie is his power. He's now got power that would trouble any super-flyweight in the world," added Breen.

"He throws a great right hand to the body and when I take him on the pads and he lands I certainly feel it, even for a day or two after. Maybe it's because I'm getting older!

"But, seriously, I feel that is Jamie is coming towards his peak and there's nobody in Europe I would be afraid of putting him in with right now. Paul Butler has gone on to win the IBF bantamweight title and he may go down to fight for the IBF super-flyweight title but I would certainly fancy Jamie's chances against him."

Breen is now working in tandem with Cyclone Promotions, headed by former World champion Barry McGuigan who also great faith in Conlan's ability.

McGuigan is staging the first of what he believes will be a series of shows to offer Irish fighters a chance to make some serious progress in their careers and, having signed Conlan and McCullough, they are top of the priority list as those who can quickly follow in the footsteps of Frampton.

McGuigan said: "Jamie's career is now starting to take off and to keep it that way we are hoping that he can give another first class performance on Friday night.

"Jamie is a fighter that we can move quickly because he has the talent and he's prepared to take risks in fights that can quickly move him up the ladder.

"I'm very excited about what he and Marc McCullough can do."

Friday night's show, which is headed by McCullough's clash with unbeaten Martin Parlagi, will also feature unbeaten Tyrone middleweight prospect Conrad Cummings, who is seeking to make three out of three.

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