AHEAD of headlining the SSE Arena on Saturday, Michael Conlan [17(8)-1(1)] said there is no question of him underestimating his French opponent Karim Guerfi [31(9)-6(4)].
The Belfast favourite is favoured to beat the five-time European champion on top of big card at this weekend. However, he is well aware he can’t afford to underestimate the challenge that awaits.
The 35-year-old has been a multi-weight ruler of Europe and challenged for a world title in his flyweight days.
His most recent defeat came against recent European champ, Joran Gill. Guerfi was up on the cards against the Brit, but ‘The Thrill’ pulled managed to pull out a big stoppage to claim a strap he since lost to one Kiko Martinez.
“He’s a very good fighter, and he’s a banana skin kind of a guy. You can’t overlook him, because when people have overlooked him he has pulled off upsets,” said the 31 year old on the Conlan Boxing YouTube channel.
“He’s a good guy, good defence, good left hook and has a bit of pop in his shots. He can be a dangerous guy if you let him be, but I’ll go in there and I’ll exploit a few things,” Conlan added.
About Saturday night…. Belfast, thank you 💥🥊☘️ pic.twitter.com/TvqkjZCxZf— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) August 9, 2022
After defeat to Leigh Wood, he came back and beat Miguel Marriaga in Belfast in August, and Conlan said he was very happy with the display, which he said shows he still has the potential to atke a world title. “I went in there against a massive puncher in Marriaga and there were an awful lot of boxes ticked in that fight to show that I am the same fighter I believe I was. I’m still on the path to get to where I need to get to. I took an awful lot from it. I went in there with a dangerous opponent and handled him with ease. I’m looking forward to going into this next one and putting in a bit of a performance.”
Asked if he could face Wood in a rematch on the undercard if Katie Taylor fights in Dublin next year, he said while he would love it to happen, he won’t bank on it it. “It could happen and it would be great if it did, but I won’t hold my breath, I might die! If it happened it would be fantastic, if Leigh Wood ever takes the rematch it would be fantastic but that’s a big if. Time waits for no man and I’m not waiting around, I’m getting on with my career and doing what I have to do. I’ll fight for a world title, whether it’s against Leigh Wood or someone else I’ll fight for a world title in the next six to 12 months. I’m excited on that front, whoever it is doesn’t really matter.”
He said that while he will still play a role in the promotion of Saturday night’s show, the fact he is headlining means he will leave much of the work to his elder brother. “It could be tough if I didn’t have Jamie! He makes all the decisions really when I’m fighting, I take a back seat. Obviously he asks me things, and runs things by me but he’s at the forefront and doing everything. Anything that’s about me in the build up to the fight he doesn’t run by me, he handles all that, but other fights and fights on the undercard he asks me my opinion and I give him my two cents.”
Conlan said he’s looking forward to seeing the performances of two young Irish fighters. “I’m looking forward to seeing the development of our young prospects, Kurt Walker and Kieran Molloy, I’ve enjoyed their development over the last while and seeing them on Paidi’s undercard when he fought in Germany and seeing the improvements there. I’m enjoying their journey probably more than I enjoyed my own journey at the start because the pressure isn’t on me, although there is a certain pressure because I don’t want them to slip up or anything like that.”
We go in-depth on the big Conlan Boxing show this weekend🥊— Joe O'Neill (@J0E_90) December 8, 2022
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He also expects the Belfast crowd to give a raucous welcome to one of their own when Pádraig McCrory arrives. “You’ve got to give that man credit and I’m looking forward to seeing him go out there and get a nice homecoming.”
While McCrory’s name is being linked with Lyndon Arthur, Conlan said that’s only one of a number of possible fights for the Belfast light heavyweight. “There’s bigger fights than Lyndon Arthur and more money on the table than Lyndon Arthur I would presume. He’s a man that can call shots now and I’m really happy for him in that sense. We’ll do our utmost to do what he needs and who he wants. It’s definitely an option and one that will be explored, but there are also other fights out there that will also be explored.”