‘The naysayers can go f**k themselves...’ Michael Conlan confirms ring return to chase world title dream

Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano rematch on undercard of Mike Tyson-Jake Paul in Texas?

Michael Conlan battled his way back into the fight but referee Howard Foster stopped it in the seventh round
Michael Conlan battled his way back into the fight against Jordan Gill but referee Howard Foster stopped it in the seventh round

MICHAEL Conlan has confirmed that he will return to the ring for another assault at the world title.

Conlan, who ran the Manchester Marathon (his first) in an eye-watering two hours and 55 minutes on Sunday, will campaign at featherweight after stepping up to super-feather for an ill-fated clash with Jordan Gill in December last year.

An out-of-sorts Conlan was down twice in the second round at SSE Arena and although he fought his way back, the Englishman became the third man to stop him when referee Howard Foster stepped in during the seventh.

Conlan looked to have lost his way and, with question marks over his punch-resistance and reflexes, that seemed to be that for the former world amateur champion. But, after a clean break from the sport and careful consideration, he will return later this year determined to achieve his boxing dreams.

“I don’t feel my last fight was a fair representation of me,” he said.

“I probably shouldn’t have been in the ring. There was an awful lot going on in my family life at home for a good while and I wasn’t in the right place or mindset. It was a fight I didn’t need to take and I probably shouldn’t have taken it.

“I believe there’s still an awful lot more in the tank and I can still be world champion. I’ll give it everything.”

Conlan hasn’t decided where his next training camp will take place and exactly when he will return or who against. He says he thought long and hard over announcing his return as a prizefighter…

“I focussed on the marathon to take my mind away from the game completely,” he explained.

“I needed to take a proper break and it’s only recently that I’ve come to this decision. Why would I end like that? I know I can still do what I want to do and achieve what I want to achieve.

“I heard plenty of people saying: ‘Someone needs to save him from himself’ and all this ballix - that’s a load of sh*t. I have the right people around me who would tell me: ‘No, it’s time to go’ and I can see why people would say that because I’ve lost my last two fights and been stopped both times.

“People are going: ‘Devastating knockouts’. The only devastating knockout was the Leigh Wood fight. The Lopez one, I was back on my feet. The Gill one, I was back on my feet…

“Going forward you’ll see a refreshed, revitalised Michael Conlan and I have to go back to being me and focussing and achieving my goals. The naysayers can go f**k themselves.”

Ready for war. Katie Taylor goes to the trenches against Amanda Serrano
Ready for war. Katie Taylor goes to the trenches against Amanda Serrano

KATIE Taylor could be in line for a rematch against Amanda Serrano as chief support to the Mike Tyson versus Jake Paul ‘novelty’ act in Arlington, Texas on July 20, 2024.

The event will be streamed globally on Netflix and it is understood that Taylor – who avenged her defeat to Chantelle Cameron with a brilliant win in Dublin last November – could reprise her rivalry with Puerto Rican favourite Serrano.

Taylor and Serrano first locked horns in Madison Square Garden, New York two years’ ago when Ireland’s finest won on split decision to retain her undisputed lightweight titles. Taylor had to come through a torrid time in the middle rounds when Serrano threw everything at her and she needed every ounce of her famed fighting hard to come through and turn the tide.

Paddy Donovan is focussed on preparing for Lewis Ritson in May (Mark Robinson/Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

ONE Lewis at a time, insists Paddy Donovan who says his focus is fully on the defence of his WBA Inter-continental welterweight belt against former British lightweight champion Lewis Ritson (23-3) before he turns his attention to an all-Ireland showdown with Belfast’s Lewis Crocker later this year.

Donovan-Ritson is the 10-round co-main event on a Matchroom Boxing card, headlined by the rematch between Scotland’s Josh Taylor and England’s Jack Catterall in Leeds on May 25, live on DAZN.

Now ranked number 11 by the WBA, Donovan will defend his title belt for the second time after a TKO win over William Andres Herrera at the Ulster Hall in January.

“I know Lewis Ritson is a really good opponent for me at this stage of my career,” said Donovan.

“I’m ticking all the boxes in training to be ready for any fighter, Ritson first, and then we can move on to beating whoever my management and promoter put in front of me.

“Ritson is a very good opponent for me. This is the fight I need, the challenge that will prepare me for bigger fights, especially against Crocker, or anyone else. For me, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, I will be ready mentally and physically, and I’ll just be me.

“It’s the biggest test of my career, every fight from now on is like my world title fight. I believe he will throw caution to the wind early in the fight but I will match him for everything he does and I’m going into the ring to win every battle, every moment, every round and every fight.”

Newcastle native Ritson, also a former WBA Inter-Continental Super Lightweight champion, was stopped by an Ohara Davies bodyshot in the ninth round back in March. Andy Lee-trained Donovan, who finished-off his last two opponents with crushing body punches, will have taken note.

“This is Paddy’s breakout year,” predicts Keith Sullivan, Donovan’s co-manager.

“I don’t envy anyone we match him against because he’s on a mission to fight for a world title but first he has to handle business in the ring with a very formidable Ritson.”

TIERNAN Bradley returns to action for the first time this year when he takes on Argentine journeyman Miguel Cesario Antin at Rotherham’s Magna Centre on Saturday night.

The Omagh super-lightweight moved to 8-0 when he capped off 2023 with a clear-cut points win over Michael Bulik in Brighton. Bradley had his opponent down twice on the way to a shut-out victory.

Also on the Rotherham bill is highly-rated former Belfast favourite Kieran Molloy. The Galway native split with Conlan Boxing last year and ends six months of inactivity against Sergio Garcia Herrera.