Underdog Jamie Conlan determined to prove doubters wrong in world title rumble

Jamie Conlan at the Waterfront in Belfast on Thursday ahead of this weekend's World title challenge Picture by Declan Roughan
Andy Watters

GOING in as the underdog on Saturday night will make becoming world super-flyweight champion even sweeter for Jamie Conlan.

Crowd favourite Conlan takes on IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas at the SSE Arena as a 9/2 outsider on home turf while the Filipino is a 1/8 sure-thing to make the third defence of his title.

Unbeaten Conlan (19-0) is well worth a punt at those odds and is determined to make his dream come true by dethroning the Manny Pacquaio protégé on the chief support (10.15pm) to Carl Frampton’s long-awaited ring comeback.

“It makes it even better that I’m the underdog,” says Conlan.

“There’s zero pressure on me. I’m a big underdog, the bookies don’t expect me to win and people have me beaten already but they don’t want to say it.

“It’s great and, for me, to prove people wrong will make it even better. It’ll be all the more satisfying.”

He added: “When I win it will prove that dreams can come true.

“It’ll mean everything to me because this is something I’ve worked for.

“Unless you come in with Olympic stature, you can’t say ‘I’m going to be world champion’, you just set small goals and once you achieve them you set your sights on the big goal.

“For the past while I’ve been setting my sights on this world title fight. I always thought it would elude me but it has happened and I’m happy it’s fight week because now it’s here, he’s in Belfast and it’s on.

“To have this opportunity to do this in Belfast means the world to me.”

Since the only loss of his career, back in 2012, Ancajas – a big hitter with fast hands – has stopped 11 of his last 14 opponents. Conlan is well aware of what faces him on Saturday night.

“We’ve watched him and we tailored the sparring for him - we had former world champions in to imitate his style,” he explained.

“This fight can be go one of two ways – it can be a complete chess match or it can be an all-out brawl. I’ve prepared for both in camp, you have to cover all the bases and we’ve done that.

“He’s a quality operator, he’s world champion for a reason and he’s very, very good in every department. He doesn’t make many mistakes but we’ve gone over and over him and we’ve devised a plan to get round him.”

In the past, lion-hearted Conlan has allowed himself to become embroiled in all-out wars. He has come out the other side bloodied and bruised but victorious and is determined to “stick to the gameplan” on Saturday night.

“I’m very excited and eager to go because I’m looking forward to the performance I’m going to put in,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to showing what I’ve done the whole training camp and I’m just excited now myself to go out and put on a performance.

“To beat him I have to stick to the gameplan and do what Danny (Vaughan, his coach) has been working on. He has shown he can take a punch and I have to be able to out-box him at times.”

With all the hard work done, Conlan is now counting down the seconds until Saturday night. He is relaxed and confident after coming through an intense camp that left no stone unturned.

“It was a great camp. All the hard work is done and now I just have to wait,” he told The Irish News.

“I’m as relaxed as I’ve ever been and for this one I know I’ve done everything that’s needed to be done and that eases your mind going into a fight.

“There’s nothing worse than going into a fight knowing that you’ve had a few injuries in camp and you’ve had to miss a week or that things didn’t go right in sparring. But everything’s gone fantastic and we’ve upped everything, it’s been harder and more and we’ve pushed it to the limit because we knew the enormity of the task at hand.

“I’m relaxed and this is the happiest I’ve been coming into a fight because I know this is my big chance to fight for a world title.”

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