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Jamie sure he can help take Michael to very top

By David Kelly

Jamie Conlan has been there for all the highs and lows — and now the buck stops with him when it comes to younger brother Michael’s career.

This Saturday night in Belfast’s SSE Arena, Jamie will walk beside Michael as he makes his way to the ring for a homecoming bout that has been highly anticipated. Jamie played his part in the choice of opponent, former world title challenger Adeilson dos Santos, and will have a guiding hand as Michael seeks to fulfil his sparkling potential.

Michael has already made a major impact Stateside, having based himself in Los Angeles for a year with coach Manny Robles while also signing a promotional deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank company.

Now he will seek to make a serious impact at home and former Commonwealth champion Jamie says he is relishing the new challenge of management.

“It can be stressful because it’s 24-7 looking after Michael’s career. I’ve got a little baby and I don’t know who needs more attention, my little girl Sophia or Michael,” quips Jamie.

“He’s very hands on and wants to know everything that’s going on. He’s so pumped up for this homecoming and in camp with nothing else to think about that he’ll message me at 11 o’clock at night about something and I have to text him back and tell him to mind his own business!

“As I’ve said to him, he just needs to focus on the boxing because it’s my job to handle the other things around him.

“I know I don’t have the experience of other managers but I do have the experience of being a fighter and having that fighter’s perspective and knowing what it is like to be in tough positions when things are not going as you would want and just how frustrating that can be.

“But of course I am learning on the job as well, that’s only natural, but so far it has gone well and for Michael it’s good because he knows that I’m looking out for him 100 per cent.

“Having been a fighter I have to say this is much more enjoyable.

“I’m involved in the sport I love and I’m not having to make weight or have someone trying to take my head off on Saturday night.

“Working with Top Rank has been great, they are a very experienced outfit and Adam Booth is a very experienced coach so he knows the kind of opponent he would like for Michael and I’m the man in the middle who speaks to Top Rank and everything is openly and honestly discussed before we agree anything.”

Brother Michael’s charisma and glittering success as an amateur meant he was destined to be showcased as a star of the future which brings great expectations of performance and challenges for the Belfast man.

“Michael is on a very different path to the career I had or for that matter the careers of most fighters and it’s very important from this point that the right opponents are picked at the right time and they need to be guys who give him a certain challenge just like this guy Dos Santos on Saturday night,” added Jamie.

“He’s a former world title challenger and a puncher.

“We had to bring a dangerous opponent in for Michael’s homecoming because we know that the Belfast public are very knowledgeable and they won’t stand being conned otherwise they won’t come back.

“From what I’ve seen of Michael in the gym, he’s doing things that a fighter with just seven fights shouldn’t be doing,” he added.

“He’s making big progress so we know that he can be stepped up and it’s just a matter of bringing him along the right way and we also need to make sure that he is not pulled all over the place with media commitments because every time he fights there is big demand which we understand but at the same time he has a fight to take care of.”

As for his own career in the ring, Jamie suggests that having lost his world title shot last November it has probably come to a natural end.

“Officially I’m not retired but unofficially it would seem the gloves have been hung up,” he says.

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