Jamie set to shine on the World stage, says Michael Conlan
Michael Conlan flew in from Los Angeles yesterday to be ringside tonight for what he believes will be a special night for his brother Jamie who bids to become the IBF World super-flyweight champion.
Growing up in Belfast, Michael always looked up to Jamie - five years his senior - and this evening he will sit alongside dad John and mum Teresa for the biggest night of his brother's career.
Michael's professional path could hardly be more different. While he is being carefully guided and backed by the promotional force of American powerhouse Top Rank, Jamie has had to come through periods of inactivity, cancelled fights as well as a number of bloody battles to find himself at the point of challenging IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas at the SSE Arena.
"I really think this is Jamie's coming out party. He's never been in a better place physically and mentally. I'm excited to see his performance, I truly believe it's his time," said Michael.
"What a special night it will be for our family, I don't think there will be a prouder man than my father come Saturday night when we hear those special words 'and the new...'
"Jamie was and still is the person I have always looked up to and admired. He has been a huge support to me throughout my career and there was no way I was going to miss this."
While Michael from an early age sought out combat in the ring, Jamie admits that he took a little bit more persuasion from dad John.
"My younger brother Brendan was boxing at the time, I just wanted to play football but my dad made me go with him. He convinced me that Michael Owen, who was small like myself, boxed and that helped him become a better footballer.
"He also said that he would give me 50 quid at the end of the year if I stuck out - but I never got it!" said Jamie.
"I did football every weekend and like most clubs we had boxing on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. I played midfield or up front and was quite good but then at around 13 I had to make a decision and I chose boxing.
"I remember the first time I fought was in an exhibition. Brendan was supposed to fight and I was going to watch but the guy I ended up boxing.
"I suppose what I like most about boxing is that it's all down to me, it's not like a football team when you are depending on 10 other guys. It's about what I do, it's my responsibility when I'm in the ring."
As with many boxers, Jamie points to the positive side of the sport in regard to keeping him on the straight and narrow throughout his teenage years.
"Growing up in west Belfast I had a fantastic childhood but my mates all got into trouble in different ways and there were times when I felt I was missing out because I was so dedicated to my training.
"My dad made sure I stayed out of trouble and he was probably more strict on me because as the big brother I had to set an example to Michael.
"In fairness to my friends, they would turn around and say 'don't come with us' because they knew I was doing well in boxing and didn't want me to get into trouble."
Tonight, Conlan hopes to defy the odds and make all those years of hard knocks and bruising experiences pay off with a momentous triumph.