Michael Conlan would jump at opportunity to fight at new Casement Park

Adeilson Dos Santos and Michael Conlan during the International Featherweight contest at the SSE Arena on Saturday night
Adeilson Dos Santos and Michael Conlan during the International Featherweight contest at the SSE Arena on Saturday night Adeilson Dos Santos and Michael Conlan during the International Featherweight contest at the SSE Arena on Saturday night

MICHAEL Conlan would relish the chance of fighting at a redeveloped Casement Park.

The Falls Road featherweight, who headlined last Saturday night’s bill at the SSE Arena, would also be keen to fight at Falls Park or join Carl Frampton on a show at Windsor Park.

“I would love a huge fight in Windsor Park in the future, that would be amazing,” he said.

“Fighting there for a world title, or if Casement Park is up and ready would be amazing.

“Even the Falls Park, we were approached last year to do the Feile.

“I’m from the Falls Road so for me to fight in the Falls Park would be unreal. It didn’t happen but in the future I would look forward to doing it – next year would be great at the Feile.

“But if Carl has another big bill at Windsor Park next year I would love to be on it.”

Top Rank star Conlan, who entered the SSE Arena last Saturday to the music of 1916 Easter Rising ballad Grace, on Saturday has sampled the unique atmosphere of New York boxing Mecca Madison Square Garden, but he’d prefer to have all of his fights at home in future.

“The atmosphere was a highlight,” he said after his win over Adeilson Dos Santos.

“The crowd singing along at the start was out of this world and that and the Garden will live with me for the rest of my life.

“No-matter what, if I die or retire in the morning I could never beat that. That was special, Belfast is special and I can't wait to get back because it is the best place in the world.

“I felt I used the atmosphere and I soaked it up and didn't let it affect me like the Garden in my first fight.

“I soaked it up. This city… I have lived all over the world but this city is great and now that I have boxed here I don't want to box anywhere else.”

The former amateur world champion and Olympic Games medallist boxed eight valuable and competitive rounds in a learning fight with Dos Santos.

“I think that fight is going to help my career massively,” he said.

“That is the first real fight I have had, Let us be honest about it. I thought the last fight was going to be as the guy had boxed for the Mediterranean WBC title but this guy was a proper fighter who had been a world title challenger.

“He was a sparring partner for some top guys and he carried pop and he has been in some experienced guy.

“He didn't like it when I was hitting him round the side of the head. Maybe I should have done that a wee bit more. He was very aware of that and that was why his guard was so high.”

LONDON-based Adam Booth left Belfast yesterday “very happy” with Michael Conlan’s eight-round points win over Adeilson Dos Santos last Saturday night after the Falls Road man showed off his technical skills and taken a commanding 79-73 points win.

“We’re thinking December next,” said Booth after Conlan’s win at the SSE Arena.

“I don’t care what’s attached to it, a fight’s a fight and as long as he takes a step I’m happy. I’m very happy with tonight.

“I’m more satisfied with tonight than I was with the other two.

“You could see the things he’s been working on and he had the thing about the homecoming and the crowd and that all takes your energy. It was hot in there too.”

Topping the bill at the SSE Arena was asking a lot for a man in only his eighth fight as a pro but Conlan handled the pressure, the hype and his opponent well, constantly switched between styles during the fight and boxing his way to victory.

“There were three different styles,” Booth explained.

“There was nice and loose southpaw, long range playing with the distance, orthodox playing with the distance and teeing up shots and then being on the inside, drum-rolling the punches and actually roughing the dude up.

“I thought he did all three. He’d never done all three in a fight before and to transition from one style to the other takes energy. We’ve drilled it in the gym but to do it under the spotlight is still going to take more out of you.

“Once you get accustomed to it, it really puts a problem on the other dude because he doesn’t know what style he’s supposed to be competing against. He has the different styles I him and we need to nurture them under the spotlight and tonight was the first time we had a chance to do that.

“He switched from one to the other quite a few times and that’s what we’re going to take from this. He’s going to watch it and identify what we can do in the gym and that’s going to make him more confident when he needs to do it.

“He’ll have to adapt tonight and toughen up because there will be shots that hit him on the gloves or the side of the head and he’ll have thought ‘I felt that’, but he’ll adapt to it and take the defensive work more seriously.

“There was one moment in round six or seven when he was against the ropes but he stopped before the attack was over and I said to him ‘If you’re going to be defensive, do not stop until it’s over – either you’re clear or he’s holding on to you’.

“The next round Dos Santos came out at 100 miles an hour and he stayed with defence, defence, defence until the fella couldn’t keep missing him more and it was nice because there was a little ripple of applause from the crowd because, for me, that’s skill.”

Conlan described the contest as the “first real fight” of his career and the eight rounds were a valuable lesson for him. He’ll take a break now and return to begin the next phase of his promising career.

“Dos Santos was constantly active for three minutes a round,” said Booth.

“Michael shut him down quite early in the fight by messing with his distance and stinging him with some bodyshots and then switching up the head.

“The guy didn’t know whether he was going to be there or not and he started choking up on his attacks.”

SHANE McGuigan trained Josh Taylor has become the fourth fighter to enter the super-lightweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series.

The 27-year-old, who last week against Ukraine's Viktor Postol secured the finest victory of his career to earn the status of mandatory challenger to the WBC title, joins WBA champion Kiryl Relikh, Anthony Yigit and Ivan Baranchyk.

Four further fighters will follow, and Taylor said: "I am delighted to have had to the opportunity to join the competition.

"It's a great chance for me to become world champion with multiple organisations."

The cruiserweight edition of the WBSS will conclude on July 21 in Moscow, where Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk will fight Murat Gassiev of Russia for the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF titles.