Michael Conlan: Chose Pedro Diaz over Buddy McGirt and Jorge Rubio ahead of Matchroom's return to Belfast

Michael Conlan takes center stage when he faces Jordan Gill tomorrow night at the SSE Arena in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

The Irish Olympic bronze medalist and former world amateur champion makes a fourth consecutive appearance in his hometown. However, Conlan has seen a gluttony of change behind the scenes. He has switched promoter from Top Rank to Matchroom, switched trainer from Adam Booth to Pedro Diaz and the Irish star makes the move four pounds north to super featherweight. This all following a crushing stoppage defeat to Luis Alberto Lopez in May.

“Jordan has moved up apparently, they asked for this to be at 130.” Conlan said in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “I’m a big featherweight, I can make featherweight still, 130 is very easy for me. The change of promoter, we came to the end of the road with Top Rank. They wanted me to stay on, they wanted me to finish my career at Top Rank. Then Matchroom came in, things seemed a little bit better, more focused. And the right people were there that you want to face, and the big fights were there. But we parted ways amicably with Top Rank, I’ll always have a good relationship with them, especially Bob [Arum] a real legend of the game. 

“The change of coach. Me and Adam made two runs at the world title, two failed attempts. So I thought let’s make the change before it is too late and I’ve changed to Pedro Diaz. I’ve changed the whole living setup, training in Miami. It is great, man, I’m really good, I’m really happy. Pedro is a fantastic coach and the one I believe is going to bring the best assets out in me. I picked three coaches that I wanted to go and try out. I was going to the east coast and Miami was the place. Buddy McGirt was one, I tried Buddy. I really liked Buddy, I think he is a fantastic coach and has a great eye for boxing. Jorge Rubio was the second coach, and then Pedro. Out of the three of them they all ticked boxes, but Pedro ticked all the boxes for me. That was the decision made. In fact I went to message him and I had seen he had messaged me after the [Lopez] fight saying, ‘you can still be champion, come and see me’ type thing.”

Belfast’s boxing fans will be back out in force tomorrow night in near freezing temperatures. 7000 people will pack into the SSE Arena in the nation’s capital despite a second world title career loss to their star.

“To be honest this time I don’t feel pressure, man.” Conlan explained. “I’m really enjoying it and I’ve been really enjoying it all week. Making weight has been nice, God has been good man. I feel good, I’m looking forward for the first time in a long time. I used to look forward to the fight being over and that I have won to celebrate and stuff. I’m just looking forward to the fight, getting out there and doing a job.”

Conlan can pull a crowd in England, Ireland and America. His options were open on his return, but he opted to continue his run of fights at home.

“We were doing the shows with Conlan Boxing in Belfast with [Lewis] Crocker and [Tyrone] McKenna headlining.” Conlan explained. “In my opinion that fight was worthy for main event status, you know what I mean, what a fight. Matchroom said Jordan Gill, so I said, ‘no problem.’ It was the first fight that was offered I think and Jamie [Conlan] said ‘yep, no worries.’ It was fast, it was done in eight weeks. It was done and then the fight was announced right away. I actually had talks with Matchroom last December I believe, before we announced the Lopez fight. It didn’t go well for me, but we are back now and have teamed up with Matchroom. I’m excited about getting the promotional backing in the UK. The Top Rank stuff, a lot of it was in America.”