Classic Irish Boxing: Conlan ready for pro debut

As Martin Rogan bids to reclaim his Commonwealth title from Sam Sexton in an old fashioned grudge match, tucked away on the November 6 Belfast undercard, 22-year-old flyweight Jamie Conlan will make his first steps onto the professional circuit. This may be the first glimpse for many of this former star amateur, but like the ever-popular Rogan, Jamie will have a solid fanbase of his own inside the Odyssey Arena.

“I’m selling so many tickets each day that I keep going back to the Odyssey to get more!” Conlan revealed. “Everyone is buzzing to see me, plus Martin Rogan and Kevin O’Hara are local guys – we’re all from the same road.

“My opponent, Anwar Alfadi, fought Luke Wilton on the last Odyssey show and being from the Brendan Ingle stable I’m expecting a tricky boxer. He dropped Wilton as well but generally he’s a cagey customer who will spoil and try to make it a negative fight, but I need to stick to what I do best and make him fight my way.”

Sheffield switch-hitter Alfadi has yet to register a win in five attempts, yet he still held Wilton to the first of two draws on his record (all Anwar’s defeats have been on points), with referee Paul McCullagh registering the Wilton scrap 57-57. Whatever Alfadi brings to the table, Conlan feels that new trainer John Breen will have him fully prepared:

“I’ve known John since I was about 15 or 16 and he always said to me that when I turned 18 to give him a call,” recalled Conlan. “I had won all the Ulster and Irish titles and my brother and I were due to box each other at the Ulsters so John came to me and said this was a good time to turn pro. Every day he gets me doing something different in the gym and he’s a calming influence to have in the corner.

“John Breen is also my manager and he explains that side of the game to me, but so far I’m on the Odyssey show and that’s all I know – I’m not signed to a promoter at the moment.”

Training in Breen’s notoriously furnace-like gym, stationed above Monico’s Bar in central Belfast, Conlan will have no problem boiling down to the flyweight limit and some quality sparring will leave the tools sufficiently sharpened.

Jamie added, “I’ve been sparring a lightweight from Enniskillen and also [EU lightweight champion] Andy Murray, before he got injured, which was good because he is a lot heavier than I am. John tells the sparring partners what to do to me so I can react to them and be ready for different styles in the ring.

“Everything’s going grand at the minute, training-wise. As an amateur it was based more on movement but now I’m learning to plant my feet and let the shots go; especially the body shots, I love ripping them in.

“As an amateur I boxed for the St. John Bosco club in Belfast and won Four-Nation titles, Irish senior and under-21 titles, boxed at the European Championships and Multi-Nations. I fell into boxing at 10 or 11 years-old.”

“Jamie hits ferociously hard to the body and we can see massive improvements in him already,” added trainer John Breen.

Conlan concluded, “I can’t wait to get into the ring on fight night and show people what I can do.”

Photograph: Russell Pritchard

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