Belfast Telegraph

Spectacular victory would be perfect Christmas gift: Conlan

 

By David Kelly

Michael Conlan says he would only give himself a "C-minus" for 2018 but intends to finish on a high at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

Featherweight Conlan faces a good test in the shape of former Commonwealth champion Jason Cunningham, who bullishly insisted that he will take Conlan "into the trenches" in their 10-rounder on the supporting bill to Carl Frampton's World title clash with Josh Warrington.

The unbeaten Belfast man, who is promoted by American Bob Arum's Top Rank outfit, is determined to look ahead to 2019 with a performance that suggests he is going to have a very exciting new year.

"I feel great and I believe on Saturday night you will see a big performance from me. I don't just want to win, I want to go and try and knock the guy out, I'd love a knockout to finish off the year," said Conlan, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph.

"As I look at the last 12 months, I would say this year has been a C-minus. If we're talking about actual development I would give myself a B because I have developed a lot but if you look at my fights this year - I knocked out David Berna in March which was good, I then let the Spanish guy run away from me in May when I felt my focus was under-par and then I had the homecoming in June against Adeilson dos Santos in the SSE Arena. That was a good learning fight but I feel I could have done a lot more, I could have got him out of there.

"But I approached that fight by giving him too much respect but that's learning as a professional and it was a huge event for me coming home so it was a high pressurised situation.

"Interestingly, another Top Rank fighter Jamel Herring also beat him over eight rounds although he had him down twice and he is now going on to fight for the WBO World super-featherweight title, a weight above me.

"In my last performance in October I feel that was a professional performance against a negative opponent. Unlike against the Spanish guy I cut the ring off a lot better. So then you come to this fight with Cunningham and I believe this can bring me up to a B grade."

Southpaw Cunningham may have briefly held the Commonwealth featherweight title but he is not expected to halt Conlan's entertaining rise up the featherweight ladder. Rather, the performance from the Belfast man should give us a better idea of where he stands in his development as a professional.

The 26-year-old feels the Doncaster fighter is just what he needs at this point in his career, with even harder tests in the pipeline.

"This guy is a good test for me. I'm not going to go out all guns blazing but I want to show people what I'm capable of. I'm very interested to see what it is like when we get into rounds six and seven.

"I know Cunningham is genuinely coming to have a fight, he really is here to win and that's what I like and I have always said that the better the fighter, the better I box.

"The camp went very well. If I'm being honest I found it a little tricky getting used to southpaw sparring again. But by the end I was flying, I was doing 12 rounds no bother and that was with two different sparring partners. So I'm demanding of myself a big performance."

Belfast Telegraph

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