Michael Conlan poised to star on Linares versus Lomachenko bill at Madison Square Garden
AS an amateur, Michael Conlan was a world champion, but he knows he needs to adapt his fighting style to reach the same level as a professional.
The Belfast featherweight has been working with his trainer Adam Booth to eradicate some of his old amateur habits and he intends to showcase the changes he has made when he faces Ibon Larrinaga at Madison Square Garden (10-1) tonight
“I want to show what I have been working on and that's what I'll do,” said Conlan (6-0).
“I'll be sitting down on my shots – staying low and not doing the things I did when I was an amateur. You can get away with some things in the amateurs, but as a pro I'm becoming more of an all-round fighter.”
Conlan and 10-1 Larrinaga is perhaps the stand-out fight on the undercard of the WBA lightweight battle between Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko. It is latest high-profile chapter in Conlan's fledgling career which will continue with his home debut against Brazilian Adeilson Dos Santos on June 30.
“I'm very fortunate and I know that,” said Conlan.
“I don't know any other fighters who get this kind of billing. My debut was at the Garden and even the undercard fights are all on big cards.
“I'm fortunate and I'm grateful for that but it does come with an added pressure that I have to take in my stride and just go for it. I'm feeling good, confident and I'm prepared and I feel that the nights I've had already in the (Madison Square Garden) theatre will stand me in great stead.
“The atmosphere I'm generating is fantastic and I'm very grateful for that too – I have to keep myself grounded and focussed and not get caught up in it too much.”
Meanwhile, world champion Linares has promised to “shut up” pound-for-pound ace Lomachenko in tonight's headline act in New York.
32-year-old Linares will be putting his WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight world titles on the line when he faces the superstar Ukrainian, live on BoxNation.
“I'm going to shut him up, plain and simple,” said Linares.
“I know I have my advantages. I'm the natural lightweight here – he's coming up. He needs to be ready. I'm going to shut him up. This fight is going to be very interesting. We have to put on a great performance for the fans.
“He knows what he's in for. He knows that I'm not an ordinary fighter. He knows that I'm bigger, that I'm faster and he has tried to prepare for that.”
Lomachenko (30), a two-weight world champion, despite having had only 11 professional fights, has stopped his last seven opponents – the last four have quit.
“I don't think about stopping Linares and forcing him to quit,” he said.
“I don't worry about that or need to do that. I do everything to win the fight and it doesn't bother me how I win as long as I do win. It doesn't bother me if I stop him, if he quits or if it's a judges' decision - I just want to win.
“Everybody has a chance when they get in the ring but I don't like the way Linares has been talking ahead of the fight. I'm not scared of anyone and will fight anybody.”