Why Michael Conlan must sacrifice normal life to become a world champion, explains coach Adam Booth
The smiling, swashbuckling hyperbole vibe has been replaced with a clinical, cold-eyed persona as Michael Conlan enters the final furlong towards a world title shot.
It's just what Conlan's boxing guru Adam Booth wanted ahead of tomorrow night's duel with Digeo Alberto Ruiz on the atmospheric stage of the Falls Park, where the Belfast man will be roared on by a confirmed 10,000 sell-out crowd.
Having had a longer camp than ever before, Conlan has had time for Booth's message of discipline to sink in. All that has gone before compounded the Belfast man's box office appeal, particularly in the States where promoter Bob Arum has major plans for Conlan, but now there is a real sense that the make-or-break business of progression starts now.
A coach of numerous champions, including fellow Belfast man Ryan Burnett, Booth has calmly and authoritatively laid out to Conlan what is required if he is to fulfil his world title potential, whether that may be technical adjustments or even more importantly his mindset.
"I want Michael to be the complete fighter, so whatever flow and style he is using to control the fight I want to see him do it perfectly, whether that's boxing long or at short distance," said Booth.
"But you have to have the right mindset and we had a good chat about that. I told him he needs to sacrifice living a normal life for two and a half years to change his life forever. You know we live in a world where kids go into a four rounder and say they're going into camp for weeks and spend £600 on shorts with all the diamonds on it and everything else. Michael has to separate himself from all the trinkets and the commercial aspects and just focusing on being the best fighter he can be.
"If you have to sacrifice the family holiday then you have to sacrifice that, if you have to sacrifice Christmas then you do, if it means not having that doughnut even though you're not in camp then don't have it. It's not like he has to be a monk but he has to be somewhere between being a normal person and a monk to achieve what he is capable of.
"Gary Logan is a very good friend of mine, he's one of the boxing minds I always listen to and he has long been an admirer of Michael and he used the phrase the other day that 'he is made of the right stuff' and Michael is made of the right stuff. What we mean by that is that when he has to bite down on the gumshield and be the harder man in the ring in order to win he can do it because he has that ingredient.
"The smart way to do it as you move along is to protect that because you only want to use those ingredients when you have to and that's where his mindset, his skill set and discipline comes into play - that he can use those skills to win without having to call on his reserves but knowing that he can call on that desire if he needs to.
"If you're an elite athlete you don't want to live like a normal man, you don't want to go out with your mates, you don't want to sit down and watch a film and eat pizza with your mates. You have to sacrifice.
"Michael is fortunate that he has a life, a sport and a career that can change his life forever by the age of 30. Not many people will get that opportunity, so don't blow it, don't disrespect the scenario you are in, so don't cheat yourself and don't cheat the opportunity."
Booth insists Conlan has responded with relish to the clear instruction and having witnessed the Belfast man raise his level of discipline, he is now hoping to see the final product cut down Ruiz.
"I believe we have an opponent that will allow Michael to show both his styles - at long range, short range and use his southpaw work as well," added Booth.
"I want to see what he has been doing in sparring on fight night with the eight ounce gloves on and this guy is not going to hide, he will look to throw a number of shots at close distance so I want to see Michael outbox him at short distance if he has to.
"Michael is a very dangerous fighter to the body and he can do that from long or short distance but there are ways of going about it, so you're setting traps and you're not looking for it too soon - you want to make someone adjust and then take advantage of that.
"We are working him on being the complete fighter so he can outbox the best of the boxers and out-fight the best of the fighters."