Jamie Conlan: Pivotal moment for Irish boxing ahead of Lopez-Conlan

Michael Conlan gets his second crack at a world title tomorrow night when he takes on Luis Alberto Lopez in the city of Belfast. Conlan’s first attempt saw him fall at the hand of Leigh Wood just over a year ago. 

A difficult night for team Conlan where he fell through the ropes after a devastating knockout defeat to Wood in Nottingham, England. Tomorrow night marks a moment of possible redemption when he challenges Lopez for his IBF world featherweight title. 

The Conlan name heads the promotional banner alongside powerhouse’s Top Rank and Queensbury. ProBox TV spoke exclusively to promoter Jamie Conlan ahead of brother Michael’s big night in Belfast.

“I had first seen Lopez up at super featherweight on a Top Rank card against Andy Vences.” Answered Conlan as to how long he had his eye on the featherweight world champion. “He was never on the radar as a featherweight until he fought Issac Lowe and then Josh Warrington. I rate him very highly, you wouldn’t go out of your way to target him. When it was proposed to us, Michael jumped at it with both hands.”

Belfast is known as a passionate fight city with a raucous atmosphere on its quietest of nights. In recent years the likes of Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett have represented the city as world champions, Conlan plans to be the next.

“We are fanatical here in Belfast.” Conlan continued. “But, we are also respectful of great champions. I don’t think it is as hostile as other places, they respect fighters who are great champions. They identify if you are a great fighter very quickly, they have a great eye for boxing in this city, but also, they get behind their own through thick and thin. After the career Michael has had, they see this as an opportunity to have a world champion from Belfast again. 

“It gives the kids an opportunity to see massive boxing shows in this city. The kids think, if he can do it I can do it. I think we are in a pivotal stage for Irish boxing where we need a new flag bearer to carry the flag, especially here in Belfast for future generations to follow. We wanted to build here in Belfast, we started with no major broadcasters. But if you build it they will come, and that is exactly what is happening here on Saturday with ESPN and BT.”

Conlan Boxing has started to spring up all over the Emerald Isle. Galway was a recent foray away from his native Belfast, Kieran Molloy returning to his hometown as the headline act.

“It was phenomenal.” Conlan stated. “It was the first time I had seen a professional show down there. I was taken back by how well it was received. We sold out in three hours! We had an 8 round prospect fight, a progressive fight. There were no titles or no real big big fights, it was all prospects on the card. It was fantastic down there, they are really buzzing about their boxing. When we left we knew we had to come back, I think we will head back down there around September and try for something bigger in Galway. Kieran Molloy can really be a superstar, he can punch and he can fight with a great mindset. He speaks well and has a personality down there, he’s very approachable. The west of Ireland has great fighters coming through.”

Michael Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs) is considered a jewel in the Irish boxing crown, his first career defeat in Nottingham last year was unexpected by most. 

“I’m expecting a masterclass from Michael Conlan, a masterclass!” Conlan added. “He led the way in making all the calls and making all the decisions after the defeat to Leigh Wood. He jumped straight back in with Miguel Marriaga, one of the most renowned punchers in the division. He really put his balls not on the line to go straight into a fight like that. It told me everything about him, both as a man and a fighter. It shows how much he wants this and how much he has learnt from the defeat, matured and progressed after the fight last year.”