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Jason Cunningham can help Mick Conlan show what he’s “really about”

Mick Conlan [9(6)-0] has put the preparations in, ticked all the boxes, and is now ready to put on a statement performance on Saturday night.

The Belfast featherweight faces his most recognisable opponent to-date, two-weight Commonwealth champ Jason Cunningham [24(6)-5(1)], on the Josh Warrington v Carl Frampton undercard at the Manchester Arena.

Conlan’s first British opponent as a pro and his first time on a pay-per-view show, Conlan is planning to play his part in a big night.

His tenth pro fight and his first ten-rounder, development is still the main goal but Conlan is still keen to make some noise.

“I’m really pleased to be a part of it,” said the Olympic bronze medallist.

“It’s a huge show, the first pay-per-view show I’ve boxed on. I’m looking forward to a great evening on Saturday night.”

“I’ve been a fan of Carl Frampton all my life and I’m a friend of him now. The fact that he’s going in there with Josh who’s a great champion, it’s a fight that really intrigues me as a fan. It’s two highly-skilled fighters going at it.”

“I worked really hard in this training camp, I haven’t took him lightly at all. On Saturday night I’m looking to bring a great performance.”

“I’m going to go in there and put a great performance on and show what I’m really about.”

“I’m very, very confident in what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it.”

While former world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos, who Conlan outpointed over eight in his Belfast homecoming back in June, is arguably a stronger opponent, the game Cunningham will likely be more ambitious.

The Falls Road fighter is happy to get this opportunity and outlined how “I’ve watched Jason Cunningham before. I know he doesn’t back down. He’s a tough fighter and he’s coming to win. He’s a working-class kid like myself and as tough as they come.”

“I don’t think he’ll run away but I don’t think he’ll press the fight because it’s not his style.”

“If Jason really wants to come and come into the trenches with me, I’m more than happy for that, that’s something I would love him to do. If he is the man he says he is, and I know he’s a tough man but, if he does that, game over.”

“I know Jason’s tough and has a lot of experience. He’s obviously won Commonwealth titles in two different divisions but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. Whether it’s amateur or professional, I’ve had over 260 amateur fights and nine professional ones and I’ve faced every style you can face.”

This experience means the southpaw stance of Cunningham shouldn’t pose any problems for switch-hitter Conlan who will be facing his first lefty in the pros.

“I’m not going to say it brings any problems,” the 27-year-old professed.

“I’ve fought many a southpaw and I know how to handle them. I’ve had loads of southpaws in for sparring for this training camp and everything’s went well.”

Most importantly, it’s another step on the ladder for Conlan and the Adam Booth-trained fighter is seeing improvements throughout 2018.

The 2015 World Amateur champion continued: “I’m just here to do my job and progress as a professional fighter.”

“I’ve already had some great learning fights. Against Adeilson dos Santos in Belfast, I let a bit of hometown pressure get to me. Even though I won comfortably, there were things I needed to answer.”

“Fighting negative fighters has also been great for my career. You saw the improvement between fighting the Spanish guy [Ibon Larrinaga] and then fighting the Italian guy [Nicola Cipoletta]. I got him out of there and landed the shots I needed to land.”

“For me, coming here and fighting in Manchester is just another part of the journey. It’s a step in the ladder to where I want to be. It’s no different to fighting in America, Ireland or Australia.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie