Gold medal-favourite Conlan: Opponents are afraid of me

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Roy Keane famously said in his autobiography that, during Manchester United’s period of dominance, some opponents were already beaten while they stood in the Old Trafford tunnel.

Something similar can be said about AIBA World champion bantamweight Mick Conlan.

The Belfast bantamweight dominated Russian Nasim Sadiki over three rounds last night in a test international at the National Stadium, and while no scores were read out at the end, everyone in the arena knew who came out on top.

Afterwards Conlan spoke to and admitted that “it’s always going to be hard when you have a reputation, opponents do get a bit nervous.”

“You get the odd fella who wants to take your head off because of who you are, but he [Sadiki] was very afraid of me, I felt that, as soon as I walked out and shook his hand in the parade I knew he was a bit nervous.”

“I was able to read him from then and I knew what way the spar was going to go.”

The Commonwealth, European, and World gold medalist was somewhat frustrated with the lack of a challenge posed, arguing that “the guy didn’t test me and I need someone who is gonna test me.

“I felt very at ease.”

“He was a quality enough opponent apparently, I think he went to the [Olympic] qualifiers for Afghanistan or something.”

“He was meant to be up to standard but it was easy enough.”

Indeed as the bout progressed, the comfortable Clonard ABC star played to the crowd and, at one stage late on, retreated into the corner and invited his survival-focused opponent to attack him. Conlan explained that “I was trying to get a bit of excitement for the crowd because I knew I was at ease and I wasn’t being tested.”

“I find it hard to get up for it.”

“But there was a crowd here and you never want to look bad in front of your home crowd so I got up for it a wee bit, but it wasn’t very exciting.”

Going into the Olympics, where he is gold medal favourite, Conlan isn’t worried about the lack of challenging tests he has received, and reasoned that “I’ll have to just get more sparring in. There were a few lads on there tonight, Sean McComb, James McGivern, Davey Oliver Joyce, they’ll all be good preparation for me so I’m happy enough with everything.”

“I’m right where I need to be.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish).

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: