Anthony Joshua weighs in with advice for Michael Conlan
WORLD heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has handed out some timely advice for Michael Conlan as he mulls over a move into the professional ranks - make sure you have the right team around you.
Joshua waited until almost a year after his Olympic gold medal in 2012 before signing on with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions and he hasn’t looked back since, blasting his way to the much-coveted IBF title - formerly held by the likes of Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis - within 16 fights.
Conlan has spoken in the past about his desire to become a world champion within 12 fights once he does turn over, though he told The Irish News last week he doesn’t expect to feature in a ring again this year.
Joshua knows from experience there are plenty of other things to consider before looking that far down the line. First and foremost, insists the 26-year-old, you have to surround yourself with the right people.
“With him, his decision will be made based on his experience at the Olympics, which wasn’t what he wanted. So his is going to come from an emotional place,” said Joshua.
“He’s already clear ‘I’m going pro’, which isn’t an issue, but it’s more that you have to spend time finding the same kind of team you had around you as an amateur that got him to where he is. You want to try and get that as a pro.
“There’s nothing wrong with him thinking ‘no, I’m done with the amateurs, I’m ready to turn pro’ because he has that option. He’s not obliged to stay amateur, so he’s made that decision. But there’s no rush, take your time, get a good team around you because, once you sign that pro contract, there’s no going back.”
Joshua had only been boxing at elite level for three years when he won Olympic gold in London, while 24-year-old Conlan is much more experienced in the amateur game. The 6”6 power-puncher strongly considered turning his back on the pro ranks in favour of staying on for a crack at the Rio Olympics, before eventually deciding to strike “when the irons are hottest”.
Despite controversially losing to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin at the bantamweight quarter-final stage last Tuesday, Conlan hit the headlines across the globe with his outburst after the fight, slamming boxing’s world governing body AIBA.
As he looks to the future, the Belfast fighter is unlikely to be short of offers, with the likes of Golden Boy Promotions, Al Haymon, Frank Warren and Joshua’s Matchroom stable thought to be among those to have expressed an interest.
Bad decisions happen in amateur boxing, acknowledges Joshua, but he believes Conlan should be proud of his performance against Nikitin, even if the judges ruled against him: “I only saw the highlights, but he looked phenomenal - I thought he looked really good. Defending, moving, he looked really good," he added.
“I’ve been on the end of bad results in different tournaments, World Championships, as an amateur. Even at grassroots in boxing, you always hear ‘I got robbed’, everyone’s got a tale to tell. And you do wonder what is it that we’re not seeing that they [the judges] see?
“The best advice is: do your best and, at the end of the day, sometimes the crowd make the decision for you. The judges are there to do a job and the crowd are there to do a job, so you take it how you want to take it.
“In your heart, if you felt you won, then that’s what matters.”