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Conlan and Ruiz make weight ahead of sold-out showdown

Michael Conlan and Diego Ruiz salute the crowd after weighing-in at the Kennedy Centre at lunchtime Michael Conlan and Diego Ruiz salute the crowd after weighing-in at the Kennedy Centre at lunchtime
By David Mohan

MICHAEL Conlan and Diego Ruiz comfortably weighed-in under the featherweight limit (nine stone/126lbs) at the Kennedy Centre today ahead of tomorrow night’s WBO and vacant WBA Inter-Continental title fight at the Falls Park.

The West Belfast man received a huge ovation as he tipped the scales at 125.6lbs with the Argentinian coming in slightly less at 124.8lbs.

Both looked cool and assured as they completed the final formalities and traditional stare-down in front of a large crowd that had gathered to get a final look at the pair ahead of tomorrow’s sold-out Féile and Phobail card.

Conlan, who has predicted a career-best display, said that he plans to enjoy tomorrow’s unique occasion before and after the contest, but once the bell rings it will be all business.

“The energy around the city is amazing, but I am focused,” he said.

“I will enjoy the ring walk and that is something I think will be special, but once I’m in the ring, it’s business.

“He is game as a badger. You could see him there today that when the noise was being made, he wasn’t folding under pressure so that’s all you can take from that.

“I don’t look into head-to-heads because you look at someone like (Manny) Pacquiao – he can’t even look at people and is laughing and smiling before a fight, but when he gets in the ring he’s a beast, so you take nothing from face-offs.”

Ruiz is certainly the best opponent Conlan has faced to date as a professional.

The Latino champion has not travelled to Belfast to make up the numbers and has his own world ambitions, but Conlan believes the Argentine’s aggressive style will play into his hands and allow him to showcase his silky switch-hitting skills having faced some unambitious opposition in his previous 11 contests.

“I believe the better the opponent the better for me,” he opined.

“I think he will jump on me from the first bell, but look, I know I’m not the biggest puncher in the world, but I have enough power to make people respect me.

“When you get the guys who are negative and stop coming forward, it’s because they have that respect for what’s coming at them.

“I believe you will see the best of me yet and you will see levels. This guy is just another I have to take out.”

Tomorrow’s 11-fight card begins at 5pm with BT Sport and ESPN providing live coverage from 8pm, so the eyes of the boxing world will be on West Belfast and that is something that fills Conlan with pride.

His older brother, Jamie – Professional Development Coordinator with MTK Global – has worked tirelessly with Féile an Phobail and promotional giant Top Rank to make this event a reality and Conlan paid tribute to all involved.
“I think I will really appreciate it all next week,” he added.

“I can’t think about it too much now because there is a job to do, but last week I started to think about this and that it is my brother (Jamie) who has done all the footwork along with Féile to make this happen.

“That two brothers from Cavendish Street have put this on at the Falls Park is something special. When I finish boxing, this is something I will remember forever.

“The eyes of the world are on this event. For two brothers from West Belfast to put on this event for West Belfast is fantastic. I know Jamie has worked his ass off here and I can’t thank him enough for it. I’m very grateful to everyone who has made this happen.”

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