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Not so hard Wood – Conlan expected tougher world title fight

Michael Conlan says he has been handed an easier than expected passage to world title success.

The Belfast star challenges will fight WBA ‘regular’ champion Leigh Wood for WBA ‘super’ featherweight world title at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on March 12.

It’s a chance for Conlan to reach the summit and deliver on his world title promise as early as fight number 17 – and an opportunity he feels fortunate to have.

The ever honest 30-year-old admits he expected tougher opposition would stand between him and maiden world title success.

Speaking to DAZN the Adam Booth trained talent suggests the Matchroom fighter isn’t as daunting a prospect as current or past belt holders.

“If someone would’ve told me I’d be fighting Leigh Wood for a world title at the start of my career then I’d be all over that,” Conlan told DAZN.

“No disrespect to Leigh, he’s done what I want to achieve by becoming world champion but there’s a lot harder ways to reach the top than fighting Leigh Wood. He’s not the fighter that I thought would be against me when I finally reached this stage in my career.”

Conlan was targeting the likes of Stephen Fulton, Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, and Emmanuel Navarette at the start of 2021 but Wood came on his radar when he upset and stopped Can Xu during Fight Camp.

It was an impressive career-changing performance by a fighter who lost to the likes of Gavin McDonnell and Jazza Dickens at domestic level but not a display Conlan reads too much into.

“Leigh did what he had to do and I suppose I have to give him credit for the win. Do I think it was the best Can Xu? I’m not so sure but even though I can’t be certain, I’m going to say it was the best version of Can Xu and that Leigh boxed brilliantly to win. I’m preparing for the best version possible of Leigh Wood. The Can Xu fight has gone and now I have to give it everything and go out there and beat the best ever Leigh Wood.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com