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Jamie Conlan close to shot at World title, says Warren

By David Kelly

Promoter Frank Warren says victory for Jamie Conlan tonight will take him a significant step closer to his dream World title shot.

Already the Commonwealth super-flyweight champion, Conlan will look to land the WBC silver title when he meets Yader Cardoza of Nicaragua in the Waterfront Hall.

Ranked nine in the IBF and number two in the WBO, Conlan finds himself in a very promising position as he looks ahead to a testing duel with Cardoza.

Warren, who is staging tonight’s bill, is keen to develop major opportunities for many of the Belfast men on the bill and Conlan is at the front of the queue.

“I’m working very hard to put in place a big fight for Jamie and  the plan is to get him a World title shot within the next two or three fights,” said Warren.

“It’s just about getting the right fight and we’ll be doing everything we can to bring his World title fight to Belfast.

“So, he can’t afford any slip-ups because he’s in a very good position.”

Conlan has built a reputation for being in dramatic bouts and while he expects another entertaining duel tonight, the Belfast man is eager to bring a little more polish to his performance.

“I have been working well in sparring, facing guys who have brought a lot of aggression but staying calm and sticking to my boxing,” said Conlan, who spent three weeks in Los Angeles last month.

“The sparring I had in LA was great, it forced me to stay on my game and stick to my boxing. In the past I’ve been a bit reckless, the red mist can come down but in this fight I want to show my control.

“I know that big opportunities are not too far away for me and that this could be a very big year so I have to be smart, maybe smarter in this fight than I’ve ever been before.”

Conlan, whose brother Michael makes his professional debut in New York next Friday, starts as the favourite but life will get tougher if he finds himself dragged into a close quarter brawl.

Akin to an addict compelled to  enjoy the next fix, Conlan has so far found it hard to stifle the lure of danger in the ring, often ending a bout with the scars of battle all too evident. Tonight, when Cardoza hangs out the red rag of aggression, the Belfast man needs to show more than a bullish bravery to remain on track for at least a World title eliminator.

Conlan’s close friend Paddy Barnes faces Adrian Garzon on the supporting bill, believing that he can push quickly up the flyweight ladder.

“Jamie stopped this guy in four rounds so I’ll have to do it a bit quicker,” quipped Barnes.

The Belfast man has made it clear that he is prepared to make a major step up in class in his next bout and promoter Warren says that is music to his ears.

“I like that, it shows  his mentality,” said Warren.

Featherweight Marc McCullough should stay on course for his British title shot on May 20 with a routine victory over Leonel Hernandez, while light-heavyweight Steven Ward should have little trouble chalking up a third straight win.

It’s an important night in the life of welterweight Lewis Crocker as the young Belfast man makes his debut against Hungarian Ferenc Jarko.

• Coalisland’s Conrad Cummings will box for the vacant WBO European middleweight title against Austria’s Gogi Knezevic, on the undercard of Josh Taylor-Warren Joubert in Edinburgh on Friday March 24.

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