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I need to up my game for Garden duel, confesses Michael Conlan


By David Kelly

Many hot prospects can easily be carried away with a series of comfortable victories but Michael Conlan admits he is still learning what it means to be a top professional fighter.

Indeed, Conlan revealed that he learned a harsh lesson leading up to his stunning second round stoppage of Kenny Guzman in the early hours of Saturday morning in Tuscon, Arizona.

It may have been his most emphatic victory as a professional but Conlan admitted he should have been in better shape and insisted he will be razor sharp when he returns to the ring on December 9 at Madison Square Garden as part of the supporting bill to the high profile clash between world champions Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko.

"When I was back home in the summer I took my foot off the gas, I was completely off and came back into camp too heavy and that meant I had to lose too much weight in the six weeks leading up to the fight with Guzman. That's a mistake I'll never make again," said Conlan who was boxing for the first time at featherweight.

"My nutritionist wasn't too happy with me and made it clear that I need to be a lot smarter. It's a lesson learned and a reminder that I have to be professional all the time. I still felt sharp enough in the ring and to get the knockout was great but I know that I could be sharper and I still have a lot to learn."

Conlan chalked up a fourth consecutive professional victory when he cut down Guzman with a thunderous right hand at 2:59 of the second round, a punch that also made an impact across the States.

"The fight was on ESPN and afterwards it featured on their Sports Centre programme which is seen everywhere in America. The exposure was great and I have to say getting that knockout also gave me more confidence.

"Every fighter loves a knockout win and it was nice to get that kind of finish in my fourth fight because it makes people sit up and take notice of you."

The 25-year-old Los Angeles-based fighter is now turning his attention to a return to Madison Square Garden, where he made such a spectacular entrance into the professional world on St Patrick's night.

Conlan is expecting a more stringent examination of his talent, which is good to hear as the World amateur champion has already shown that he is more than capable of handling himself against a higher quality of opponent.

"To be on the undercard of a fight between the two best amateurs ever and two of the best professionals will be fantastic," said Conlan, who will not box again before his second date in the Garden

"I had an amazing debut there on St Patrick's night and to go back there will be great. My promoters Top Rank had thought about me fighting again before December but now they just want me to focus on the Garden fight.

"I know that I have things to work on before that fight and I'm looking forward to getting myself in top condition."

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