Jamie Conlan prepares for Belfast bout as brother Michael ponders future

Tim Martin 03/09/2014

Jamie and Michael Conlan refuse to rest. If training means sprint sessions, with one pace setting and the other following in hot pursuit, only the lead runner can be satisfied.

Duals of this ilk are not simple sibling tests of endurance either. They are part of a battle hardened process to maintain professional and amateur dominance in world boxing. The former is readying himself for a fight with Jose Estrella for the WBO super flyweight intercontinental title on Saturday. His Commonwealth Games gold medallist brother is on hand to ensure every run is a hurting one.

A browse through Jamie’s professional record in the super flyweight division, tells of a fighter uninhibited by any challenge set for him. From twelve bouts, eight have been finished within the distance. The 27 year old stopped Benjamin Smoes to gain the WBO European strap at the Odyssey arena in April. Should he damage the reputation of Estrella, a second title is expected to see him rank third with the WBO.

Come fight night both Conlan’s will enter the outdoor purpose built ring at Titanic slipway together. Michael will take his seat at ringside. Jamie will await instructions on how to box in accordance with professional laws. These moments and the outcome of the fight could well prove to be more significant for the younger of the two men as Michael considers signing up to the paid ranks. Promoters have been in contact with the 23 year old, who is likely to attach himself with a big name overseas.

“I’m in talks with a few people. I’m not going to mention any names. They are on-going at the minute, I’m still weighing up my options,” he says. Swapping medals for belts will mean putting an end to dreams of an Irish Olympic gold in Brazil 2016, but would guarantee lucrative fights. “I’m not saying either way if I’ll be in Rio or not. Whatever is going to suit me better financially and career wise, is the route I’m going to choose.” The bantamweight is not shy about his own ability and fears little about the money driven world famed by Floyd Mayweather.

Whether his words are those of a prodigious talent or spoken as an act to mimic prize fighters, the man with the rosary bead tattoo is honest as he is confident. He has no time to critique his own performances, when to date they have been largely unmatched. Reviewing his success in Glasgow, he comments “If I hadn’t have been injured before the Games I would have won (Gold) with one hand.” Any transition to be made in turning professional is imagined to be just as straightforward. “I don’t think it would be any harder than the amateur game. Ok longer rounds but I think I could turn pro and do twelve rounds right now. I’d only be warming up after three.” Call it an experienced hand knowing better, but Jamie doesn’t share the same notions of his brother when it comes to post fight self-analysis and the path to success. “I see things from my past fights and think to myself, I’m ten times the fighter I was then. No matter who you are, even if you’ve had thirty fights and are undefeated, there is still something else for you to learn and improve on.” They don’t agree on who is more competitive either.

If either of the two have anything more to prove in their sport, then they are willing to be pushed and advised by their father and long-time amateur boxing coach John Conlan. On occasion, Michael acknowledges taking bad advice has been the problem. During his first fight at the Commonwealths he was told “Go out and finish him,” and ended up with a cut head. Jamie recognises life inside the ring wouldn’t work without the support of his Dad. “He keeps me motivated, during the harder, testing times,” says ‘The Mexican.’

His original opponent for the Titanic Showdown was supposed to be Daryl Basadre, but fell through when the Filipino injured himself sparring. In simple terms, that fight was widely expected to be a hard hitting contest, not dissimilar to the main event between home favourite Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez. Feel good vibes are once again being anticipated for Frampton becoming world champion. Last time out, he brought a packed crowd to their feet with Jackie Wilson’s classic ‘Your love keeps lifting me higher.’

These days Jamie could be forgiven for adding a Mariachi band to proceedings, given the atmosphere in Belfast. “At the minute, amateur and professional boxing is buzzing and the fans should be getting behind all of us because I don’t know if times like these will last.” With Frampton looking to secure future fights in America, the responsibility of entertaining Irish and British may well fall to the super flyweight and his professional in waiting brother.

Tim Martin is covering Martinez v Frampton fight week for WBN. Follow Tim on Twitter @Tim_Martin4

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