Michael Conlan ready for first outing with Pedro Diaz in his corner

Irish star Michael Conlan has his first fight with new trainer Pedro Diaz on Saturday in Belfast.

The two-time Olympian and two-time world title challenger was with coach Adam Booth for five years, having turned pro with Manny Robles. 

Conlan has been training for his Belfast bout with Jordan Gill with Diaz in Florida, and there are no hard feelings between him and Booth.

Twice, with Booth in the corner, Conlan was stopped in world title fights, firstly in the dying embers of his war with Leigh Wood and then against Mexican Luis Lopez.

Conlan nearly quit the sport after that, but after some time to digest the loss, he had sessions with Buddy McGirt and Jorge Rubio before deciding Diaz was the right fit.

Diaz has been in boxing at a high-level for years, with his reputation built on working with the Cuban amateur team, including four Olympic cycles, including 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. 

Before that, Diaz boxed as an amateur building a 78-9 record and studied Physical Culture at the Cuban Sports University.  
He left Cuba in 2007.

From 2008, he worked in Canada for Yvon Michel, spending time with Jean Pascal, David Lemieux and others but after moving south, he worked with the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux and Miguel Cotto.

Conlan said Diaz had “sparked something in him”. 

“I definitely do feel re-energised,” Conlan said. “You can hear it how I speak. I kind of have that little step again where I’m ready to go in there. I just need to let the world see it and I’m excited about this one.”

Conlan is 18-2. He’s parted company with Top Rank and signed a multi-fight deal with Matchroom but admits big calls had to be made on his future.  

“It was a massive decision, a complete change of team, set-up, lifestyle and a friend in Adam,” Conlan added. “It was five years we were together. It’s a long time. It wasn’t an easy decision but it was something for my career I felt was the correct thing to do and you might wonder am I doing the right thing by staying or am I hindering myself? I don’t really know is the answer. I can’t tell you that until I finish my career, I just felt that we had two cracks at the world title and I wanted a complete change of set up from being close to home. Something different, take myself away, and get into that mindset again where I’m ready to lay everything on the line. 

“He [Diaz] ticked every box for me. He was involved in every session we’ve been doing, on the track or the gym, he’s up doing the boxing and the long runs, he’s been doing them with me… the recovery-type runs, he’s on the ball and he’s trained many great fighters, over 20 Olympic champions I think, and then as a professional he’s trained great fighters. He trained Miguel Cotto on his comeback trail and what I’m seeing form him when I’m in the gym with him is just the guy’s like a genius. He knows so much about boxing. He’s a bundle of knowledge which you can only learn from.”