By Josh Williams
2015 World and European amateur boxing gold medallist, Michael Conlan, relishes the fact he’s a nobody in Los Angles and feels it’s a perfect platform to prove his worth.
Conlan admitted shortly after his controversial 2016 Rio Olympics – where he was victim of awfully poor judging, that turning professional was next.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist put pen to paper with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing, and announced his pro debut in some style. Conlan’s first outing in the paid ranks will be on Ireland’s most celebrated day of the year – St. Patricks Day, March 17, at no other than Madison Square Garden, New York. His opponent is American Tim Ibarra (4-4 1KO).
Conlan says he loves training in LA under Manny Robles and with his tight-knit, world class stable.
“It’s great,” he told Boxing News. “In Ireland I was the number one but now I’m nobody here. I love it out here. I have to prove myself again. It’s good.
“Oscar [Valdez] and Jessie [Magdaleno] are like Manny’s two main guys and to have me and them two in the gym, I felt like I meant something in the gym. I felt like I was meant to be there and they thought well of me.
Manny Robles’ The Rock Boxing Gym in Carson, Los Angeles, is home to some of boxing’s most talented up-and-coming fighters, boasting two world champions and likely to be many, many more.
Under the tutelage of Robles – a 45-year-old Mexican trainer, is WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez, WBO super-bantamweight titleholder Jessie Magdaleno, hard-hitting Ukrainian Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, and unbeaten Irish middleweight Jason Quigley.
Conlan feels that he’s already showing significant improvements in training, and believes there’s similarities between Robles and his father.
“He’s the trainer for me,” the 25-year-old said. “He’s been giving me things I need to work on.
“He reminds me a bit of my own father, the way he would approach things. He’s always the boss but we’re able to have fun. That’s all part of training.
“He’s been working on the little things, like my inside work, when I’m coming in close. I’m open to some shots because I leave my chin there sometimes. In the amateurs I was getting away with it but in the pros you won’t get away with that.”
With Top Rank’s most lucrative star back from retirement and an unsuccessful presidential campaign, Bob Arum is hoping to finalise an event in Australia which would see Manny Pacquiao take on undefeated Aussie welterweight Jeff Horn.
When asked about future plans and aspirations in the near future, Conlan expressed serious interest in fighting Down Under.
“My year starts from March, that’s my first fight,” the Belfast super-bantamweight added. “I’ll have definitely six fights but possibly eight. One of those fights is definitely going to be in Ireland, in Belfast or Dublin, and then, if Pacquiao’s fighting in Australia, we’ll be fighting in Australia.”