Conlan praises trainer Diaz improving mindset ahead of Gill encounter in Belfast

Two-time world title challenger Michael Conlan has credited new trainer Pedro Diaz for rejuvenating his career and looking forward to boxing “for the first time in a long time” as he faces former European featherweight champion Jordan Gill (27-2-1, 8KOs) at the SSE Arena, Belfast. 

Belfast native Conlan (18-2, 9KOs) will be returning to the ring for the first time following his stoppage defeat to Luis Alberto Lopez in May, where he was withdrawn from the contest by then-trainer Adam Booth due to the heavy nature of the knockdown Conlan had sustained by Lopez. 

Following the defeat to Lopez, questions were asked to Conlan in the aftermath regarding his future within the sport after failing twice to capture a version of a featherweight world title, losing in both instances to Leigh Wood (3/2022) and Lopez via stoppage defeats in twelve and five rounds respectively. 

However, Conlan decided that he would fight on and that a new trainer would be needed, parting ways amicably from Adam Booth in August and switching to Diaz in Flordia the following month. 

Conlan has credited Diaz for improving his mindset and, most importantly, allowing Conlan to feel like himself once again. 

“It was a smart and good move for me.” Conlan told The Irish News.

“Working with Pedro has been fantastic. He’s a very smart coach, a very experienced coach who has been through the lot – 21 Olympic champions, 18 world champions.

“He’s got me back to being me. He’s not teaching me new things, not trying to change what I do, but using the best assets I have, which are my legs, my skills and everything like that. It’s not about trying to have a fight all the time; it’s using my boxing ability, and it’s been great.”

Cuban Diaz has trained the likes of Miguel Cotto, Filip Hrgovic, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Roamer Alexis Angulo, as well as being a decorated amateur trainer within the Cuban amateur set-up, helping guide the likes of Hector Vinent, Felix Savon, Teofilo Stevenson, Angel Espinoza and Adolfo Horta to Olympic successes.

Diaz is known for his analytical nature when it comes to training fighters and already possesses a full “run-down” on him (Conlan), according to the Irishman. 

“Pedro is smart, and he’s watched an awful lot of me – amateur fights, professional fights… He has a full run-down of who I am.

“After every week of training, we review the week, we go over everything, and he’ll show me reasons why this happened or that happened. Everything is mathematical. He’s a genius.”

Ultimately, Conlan is anticipating this upcoming weekend’s encounter with Gill in a differing mindset, commenting how he is now looking forward to the clash instead of looking forward for it ‘to be over and done with.’

“I feel fantastic and excited about Saturday, “said Conlan. “It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve actually been looking forward to the fight rather than looking forward to it being over and done with and having the win. I’m looking forward to actually fighting and putting on a show,” Conlan finalised.