Conlan eyes Butler bout after link-up with Warren
JAMIE Conlan has signed with promoter Frank Warren, but his eyes remain fixed on the same prize – a world title rumble with long-term rival Paul Butler later this year.
Butler, who recently won the WBO International super-flyweight belt, is also promoted by Warren and Belfast fighter Conlon would like to catch up with him in the autumn.
Before that he has a proposed Commonwealth title challenge against Anthony Nelson in London to concentrate on and perhaps a world title eliminator in the summer.
“I’m still managed by MGM but I’m going to be promoted by Frank Warren now,” Conlan explained over the phone from Marbella yesterday.
“He’s got the fight with Paul Butler that I want in the division so it’s the move I’ve been looking for.
“We’re looking at having an eliminator in June or July and I’ve got a fight coming up on April 30 at the Copper Box in London on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders.”
Nelson (11-0) took the Commonwealth title off Jamie Wilson in April last year and already has a successful defence against Ian Halsall, in September. The London card will also feature James Tennyson’s British featherweight title challenge against Ryan Walsh.
“The Commonwealth belt is one that everyone likes to have – British, Commonwealth, European and then go on to the bigger ones,” said Conlan.
“It’s another step in the right direction, it’s an undefeated fighter, a champion – I’m not fighting for a vacant belt and it’s always a lot harder when you’re fighting for someone else’s belt because they’ve got something to lose.
“It’s another move up the ladder and another belt for me.”
A shoulder injury has kept Conlan (15-0), AKA ‘the Mexican’, out of action since November last year. The injury had caused him to pull out of the MGM bill scheduled for the National Stadium, Dublin in February. The show was cancelled after gunmen killed one man and injured two others when they sprayed the weigh-in with bullets.
“I wasn’t on the bill,” said Conlan.
“It was an MGM bill but I was always going to be on BoxNation shows so it didn’t affect me at all.
“I’m still all ready to go and still training hard, I still have the right backing behind me. I’m in an eight-week camp for the April bill.
“After that I’d like another fight in June or July and then my focus turns to going to Rio to support my brother (Michael) in the Olympic Games. So the Butler fight would be after that.
“I would love the fight right now – I think it’s a great fight, it’s a great money fight for the two of us. So why not? April, July, Rio and then bring on Butler.”
Theoretically Conlan could join his younger brother Michael in the Irish team, but he has no plans to do so. He doesn’t agree with the recent decision to allow professional boxers to compete at the Olympic Games.
“It’s like snooker and pool,” he said.
“You use a cue and you use balls but at the end of the day it’s two different games. It’s like a long-distance runner and a sprinter.
“Coming down from doing a 12-round fight to doing a three-round fight would be really hard on the body. I’ve always said that amateur boxing is 10 times harder than the professional game – there’s one world or Olympic champion in the amateurs but in the pros you can become world champion and you don’t even have to fight the best.
“Any pro who would step into the ring with the likes of Michael or Paddy (Barnes) is in for a complete hiding for three rounds.”
Groves faces Brophy
SHANE McGuigan-trained George Groves will take on David Brophy at London’s O2 Arena on April 9.
Super-middleweight Groves, who lost previous world title challenges to Carl Froch (twice) and Badou Jack, will appear on the undercard of the heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua and American Charles Martin and talk of a summer showdown with Martin Murray has already begun.
But Groves (25-3) says his focus is on unbeaten Scot Brophy (16-0-1).
“It’s nice to be in a domestic dust-up,” he said.
“David is an undefeated fighter so I’m sure he will be coming with a lot of confidence.
“I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m back in the world title mix. There are plenty of big fights out there for me, and I’m willing to fight anyone, so we will see what routes open for me.”
Murray has also failed to make a breakthrough at the highest level. The St Helen’s fighter has lost four world title challenges and was beaten by Arthur Abraham for the WBO super-middleweight belt last time out. He will be chief support to Anthony Crolla’s WBA world lightweight title defence against Ismael Barroso in Manchester on May 7.
“It’s a fight that maybe needs something on the line for it, maybe a world title eliminator, but I’m confident of winning,” Murray said.
“There’s no point in us just fighting for the sake of fighting, there needs to be something there.
“I am a world-class fighter and people have only given me a chance when they think they can beat me, in their own country with their officials.”