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Michael Conlan all set for Dos Santos rumble in home debut

Michael Conlan had no trouble beating Ibon Larrinaga in New York but faces a step up against world title challenge Dos Santos
Andy Watters

MICHAEL Conlan tops the bill on home soil for the first time at the SSE Arena on Saturday night in a right-of-passage rumble against Adeilson Dos Santos.

Experienced Brazilian Dos Santos fought former Conlan stablemate Jessie Magdaleno for a world title in April last year and is a serious test for Conlan who is still only in his eighth fight as pro.

Conlan’s amateur profile meant he has been in the public eye since his pro debut and has attracted media scrutiny for all seven of previous outings. The Belfast featherweight has already topped the bill at the Madison Square Theatre and appeared on world title undercards in the main arena and in Australia.

Now 26, the former world amateur champion and Olympic Games medallist needs to be challenged and tested as he works his way towards a world title shot that could come next year.

Dos Santos has a 19-4 winning record but he looked flat-footed and out of his depth against Magdaleno and didn’t see the third round of a one-sided fight in Carson City.

Magdaleno – who has 18 knockout wins in 26 fights - blew him away and Conlan will look to do the same. He expects a test on Saturday night and knows that winning it will see him move up to the next level of opponent.

“It’s a considerable step up for me, certainly,” he said.

“I know Belfast is a hugely knowledgeable boxing crowd and there was no way I wanted an easy option. I’d have been hounded for it.

“I need this fight anyway because there’s no point in fighting lower-level opposition any more. It’s all part of a learning curve and a journey to the top. Dos Santos is significant.”

Like many other South American fighter, footage of Dos Santos in action is rare and there was a ‘who’s he?’ situation when he was named as the opponent for Britain’s Kid Galahad back in 2014. He travelled to Sheffield for his first fight outside Brazil but Galahad won the vacant International Boxing Federation Youth super-bantamweight title with a points win.

“If I’m honest, I don’t watch much footage of my opponents,” he said.

“I let my coach Adam Booth go over the tactics, tell me what we need to do and I go and put the plan into action.

“I trust Adam completely. We struck up a bond quickly and our work together so far has been great. I have real faith in him knowing what he’s doing and that’s where the trust comes from.

“I hear Dos Santos is big, aggressive and will come forward. It’s clear he can punch and he’s been in with some high-class opposition. He comes to win but I’ve worked too hard to let him.”

Saturday's bill

Featherweight: Michael Conlan (7-0) v Adeilson Dos Santos (19-4)

International Boxing Federation Inter-Continental Super-Featherweight title: Jono Carroll (15-0) v Declan Geraghty (17-2)

Light-welterweight: Tyrone McKenna (16-0-1) v Jack Catterall (21-0)

Celtic Super-bantamweight title: Joe Ham (14-0) v Tyrone McCullagh (10-0)

Welterweight: Lewis Benson (10-0) v Johnny Coyle (18-0-1)

Lightweight: Gary Cully (4-0) v TBC

Welterweight: Lewis Crocker (5-0) v TBC

Super-flyweight: Sunny Edwards (7-0) v TBC

Super-middleweight: Taylor McGoldrick (1-0) v TBC

Super-middleweight: Padraig McCrory (3-0) v TBC

McGuigan happy to take Taylor stateside

BARRY McGuigan insists Josh Taylor can cope with a trans-Atlantic trip as he chases his first world title.

The Tartan Tornado swept to a 13th straight win as a professional with a gritty points win over former world champion Viktor Postol in Glasgow on Saturday night.

Their SSE Hydro showdown was a final eliminator to see who fights next for the WBC super lightweight crown.

It is currently held by Jose Ramirez but while he is due to take on fellow American Danny O'Connor on July 7, McGuigan does not expect to see the belt change hands.

And the Cyclones Promotions chief is already eyeing a Stateside clash with the incumbent for his ambitious Scottish puncher.

Taylor, 27, kicked off his pro career three years ago in Texas and has also tasted action in Brooklyn and Las Vegas.

It seems certain he will be made to travel again if he wants to get his chance but so long as the fight does not take place in California, McGuigan fancies his man's chances.

He said: “Josh made his pro debut on the undercard of a world title fight in El Paso.

“He then fought that awkward Mexican kid that took him the distance in Vegas, while he has fought in big arenas round the world as an amateur.

“There is much more pressure on him now as a pro he can handle it.

“I'm not worried about him fighting Jose Ramirez in New York.

“I wouldn't like to take him to the west coast of the States simply because Ramirez is very popular out there.

“But we'll see what our budgets are like, we’ll see what the WBSS (World Boxing Super Series) is like as well and see what’s available. We’re keeping all out options open, which is the sensible thing to do.”

Casey Blair hopeful of securing another crack at Telford

JOURNEYMAN Casey Blair tangle with John Telford was voted ‘Fight of the Night’ in Middleton, England recently and now the affable Bangor tough nut with a 5-41 record fancies a rematch with the Mancunian prospect.

Blair, who is back in Middleton this weekend to face Uwais Majeed, went toe-to-toe with Telford from the first bell and the pair of them locked horns and traded blows throughout six entertaining rounds before Telford got the nod from the judges.

Blair (38) – a builder by trade – landed eye-catching shots in every round and could get the chance to settle the score if, as has been proposed, the pair meet again, this time for a challenge belt over 10 rounds.

Cully excited by Szabo contest

STANDING 6’2”, Naas lightweight Gary Cully is relishing the chance to shine on the undercard of Michael Conlan v Adeilson Dos Santos on Saturday night when he steps up against Hungary’s Zoltan Szabo.

“I’m coming to the end of a good strength programme. I had amateur pedigree and a lot of skill but my strength used to be behind,” he said.

“I was being pushed around a bit by guys my own weight. Now I’ve had time to work on my strength rather than be concerned about getting weight off.

“This time around we’ve had a good 12-week camp so my strength has gone through the roof and I’m pushing guys around now.

“I’m getting more rounds in and my muscle endurance has improved massively. We’ve been doing structured weight programmes as a team but they’re all personalised for what each fighter needs.”

Cully added: “I’m sure I have to be the tallest lightweight around. There was nobody taller in the amateurs and I haven’t heard of any pros either.

“The weird thing is, I could probably even make super-featherweight…”

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