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Michael Conlan has character to reach the top, says trainer Adam Booth

 

By David Kelly

Adam Booth has been around boxing long enough to know early on whether or not a fighter is going to tick all the boxes when it comes to scaling the ultimate heights and so it was when he linked up with Michael Conlan.

Booth, who took David Haye to World cruiserweight and heavyweight titles and now guides Belfast's World bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, says he has comfortably dovetailed with the ambition and personality of Conlan.

To those on the outside Conlan may come across as a little too confident, even arrogant, such is the belief in his own ability but Booth rejects such a notion and confesses to being pleasantly surprised by the 25-year-old Belfast man's approach to his work in the London gym.

"Michael has that charisma, he has been the number one amateur in the world so when you first come to work with someone like that you do wonder if you're going to be faced with someone who has what I would call the superstar syndrome, that it's going to be hard work," said Booth, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph. "But, right from the start, it was clear that was not going to be an issue at all.

"He's a very grounded guy who knows where he wants to get to and knows that he has a lot to learn because the professional business is so different and he is willing to listen.

"That is so important and when I met and had a good chat with his dad John I could see right away why Michael does not have the superstar syndrome.

"As a coach when you have been to the very top, the world level, anything below that is not going to motivate you in the same way so I only want to work with guys who have the qualities to get to the top and Michael has that.

"We did some good work for the first fight but it was a bit of a rushed camp but I would say that over the past six weeks we have done some great work together. We have been trying a lot of things and I'm very pleased with how it has gone.

"We have been working on different styles, how we can add to his game and he has responded very well."

Conlan's first professional bout in Belfast will see him up against former world title challenger Adeilson dos Santos in an eight rounder that Booth admits is a good step up in class for the former world amateur bantamweight champion.

"This guy is a very good test for Michael and it's after Saturday night that I will have a better assessment of just how quickly we can progress him," added Booth.

"Up to now Michael has performed very well, he has had seven fights in which he has been able to go out and perform and that's the way it is when you start off on the professional path.

"But it's a very different thing between performing and being in a fight and that is what Saturday night is.

"This guy is coming for a real fight, he's a threat but it's good to see Michael being tested like this in his eighth fight," commented Booth.

• Tyrone McCullagh has vowed to turn back the challenge of Joe Ham when they clash on the undercard at Belfast's SSE Arena on Saturday night in a Celtic super-bantamweight title encounter.

McCullagh has dubbed his rival Ham 'the pig' on the back of recent verbal exchanges.

McCullagh said: "The pig nickname is just a bit of banter, but I don't like him. You can't like someone you are fighting. He is going down. He was saying a few things, but he has gone very quiet and blocked me on social media as well.

"I don't know what he is trying with mind games and I hear he isn't coming over for the press conference. As long as he is there on Friday for the weigh-in and fight night I don't mind."

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