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Conlan in great shape for first step towards medal success


Father and son: John and Michael Conlan make a great team

Father and son: John and Michael Conlan make a great team

©INPHO/James Crombie

Father and son: John and Michael Conlan make a great team

Michael Conlan grew up in a boxing family in West Belfast. His father John - who is one of Ireland's coaches in Rio - is a Dubliner.

During his teenage years, John boxed for Drimnagh BC before moving to Belfast where he married a local girl, Teresa, and reared three sons: Jamie, who is now a professional boxer, Brendan and Michael.

John took his three sons to the St John Bosco Boxing Club on the Falls Road, where the careers of Olympians Freddie Gilroy, Sean McCaffrey and Martin Quinn were forged.

Conlan fulfilled his Olympic ambition in London, ending up with a bronze medal after losing to the eventual gold medallist Robelsy Ramirez in the semi-final of the flyweight division.

It's a measure of how Conlan's career has progressed since that even though the Cuban has also moved to the 56kg category, the Ulsterman is the No 1 seed.

Conlan (25), the reigning World, European and Commonwealth champion, begins his Rio campaign tomorrow and should have too much for Armenia's Aram Avagyan.

But John Conlan insists: "There is this illusion that there will be a lot of soft touches in the first few rounds. There are no soft touches.

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"There are 27 other guys in Michael's weight division and all of them can get a medal. But Michael is flying."

Conlan hasn't lost since being the victim of a 'home town' decision in the World Series of Boxing in Almaty in early 2015.

The unspoken fear about Conlan is that he has suffered two serious facial injuries in the last two years, which suggests that in the post-headguard era he is prone to these injuries, the majority of which are caused by so-called accidental head clashes.

His last competitive appearance, in Lithuania in May, had to be aborted after he suffered a facial cut which required stitches.

Provided these issues don't recur today he looks set to secure a place in the last eight.

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