Michael Conlan accredits much of the fanatical support surrounding his professional career to a famous low as an amateur.
The Irish sensation (6-0-KO5) recently headlined a sold-out Madison Square Garden amid trademark fanfare but believes the focus he’s being afforded is primarily the by-product of his Olympic controversy.
Conlan, 26, was a clear favourite to add bantamweight gold at the 2016 Rio Games to his world amateur crown only to be eliminated by a controversial call in the quarter-final against Vladimir Nikitin.
The instinctive middle-finger salute to the judges and the subsequent expletive-laden rant on live television brought with them widespread media coverage. Nearly two years on, Conlan admits those few moments did more for his career than his extensive boxing achievements.
Conlan said: “It’s sad that the media prefer negativity to success but it’s the world we live in now. Social media means news changes every second but negative stories seem to last longer.
“If a big achievement happens, you’ll never get as much recognition as you would do back in the day when you were the only thing on the news. Social media means big achievements disappear quickly.
“I don’t regret my reaction to getting robbed because I know I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for that. Name me an Olympic champion from that Games who has a higher profile than me. I don’t think there is one.
“The main thing I take from what happened and the reason so many people loved it was because it was an athlete in the spotlight who didn’t stick to the script. I was being honest and that’s me.
“If something like that happened in the professional ranks, how I would react depends how I feel at the time. If I felt it was unjust like Rio then I would act the same but with close fights, there’s nothing you can say.”
Conlan’s next assignment sees him back at Madison Square Garden – this time on the Jorge Linares v Vasyl Lomachenko bill – on May 12.
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