By Bernard O’Neill
Michael Conlan was switching from orthodox to southpaw so much at the 2015 World Elites in Doha Qatar that he almost invented a new boxing stance – orthopaw.
The Belfast bantamweight claimed the only Elite medal that Irish boxing didn’t have on the Persian Gulf after beating Muradzhon Akamadaliyev on a unanimous decision in the bantamweight final five years ago.
But it was a high-tempo and fiery encounter with the tough Uzbek before the two-time Irish Olympian became the only Irish male boxer to became an AIBA World Elite champion.
Conlan won four fights en route to the top of the podium on the Arabian Penninsula.
Ireland, courtesy of Conlan (gold), Joe Ward (silver) and Michael O’Reilly (bronze), claimed three medals in Doha.
Cuba, Russia, Azerbaijan and Ireland, in that order, finished in the top four positions in the medals table at the 18th edition of the tournament.
The tournament was also acting as a qualifier for Rio 2016, with Conlan, who had already qualified through the WSB, qualifying again in Doha to book two tickets for the same Olympics.
“The Irish crowd, I have never seen anything like in my life. I don’t even have this support at home, I’m completely over the moon,” said Conlan after his Doha win.
“The plan today was to box but the way he was coming forward it was going to be hard to box him for the full three rounds so I knew I just had to take the steam out of him and push him back.”