Battling for World title at SSE Arena is a dream come true: Conlan
It has been a long and winding road for Jamie Conlan, but the 30-year-old west Belfast man finally gets his crack at a World title at the SSE Arena on November 18.
It will be a case of The Mexican against the Filipino when IBF super-flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas puts his title on the line against Conlan on what promises to be a huge night for boxing in the city, with the return of Carl Frampton topping the bill.
Conlan has had a career full of ups and downs, almost quitting the sport four years ago after a frustrating time blighted by cancellations and injury.
Things did pick up when signing for Cyclone Promotions, but his subsequent move to MTK (then MGM Marbella) saw his career light up and profile soar with heart-stopping victories against Junior Granados, Anthony Nelson and Yader Cardoza, with WBO Intercontinental, Commonwealth and WBC International Silver titles picked up in those fights respectively.
Having paid his dues, now is his long-overdue title shot, and the affable Conlan couldn't be happier.
"I have known about it for a few weeks now but I never let myself get overly excited about it because I have been let down in the past with big shows and big fights," said Conlan at the Ulster Hall yesterday.
"Finally the press conference is here and everything is done and dusted so I can let myself enjoy it.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back over to camp with (trainer) Danny Vaughan and getting down to the nitty gritty."
The undefeated Belfast man got to see his November opponent in action back in July when Ancajas successfully defended the title in Brisbane against Teiru Kinoshita on the undercard of his promoter Manny Pacquiao's loss to Jeff Horn.
With brother Michael Conlan boxing on that card, Jamie was in attendance and, while the fight with Ancajas was far from sealed at that point, he had an inkling they would meet and paid close attention.
"I was at that fight in Brisbane," he confirmed. "My brother (Michael) was at the same time scale throughout fight week, so I got to see him up close and personal. I got to see his emotions and reactions. I paid attention because the lads at MTK told me to get ready for the WBO or IBF because I am highly ranked with them both.
"I really rate him. I know I will have to be at my very best, but I wholeheartedly believe I can win.
"It's a big stage, a big atmosphere and the biggest audience I will have ever fought in front of with BT Sport, so it's a dream come true."