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Full steam ahead to Féile for Conlan who plans to deliver the performance of his life

Michael Conlan has confirmed his fight at Féile an Phobail will be his last at featherweight for a while as he plans to drop down to the super-bantamweight division in order to target world title opportunities Michael Conlan has confirmed his fight at Féile an Phobail will be his last at featherweight for a while as he plans to drop down to the super-bantamweight division in order to target world title opportunities
By David Mohan

MICHAEL Conlan has decided to shelve a proposed warm-up fight next month as he says he wants to prepare for the performance of his life at Féile an Phobail on August 3.

The 27 year-old was expected to fight on the undercard of former stablemate, Oscar Valdez, but instead will set his sights firmly on his Fall Park homecoming.

Valdez – the WBO featherweight champion who is a target for Carl Frampton – and Conlan both trained at The Rock Gym under Manny Robles in 2017 before the West Belfast man returned to this side of the Atlantic to hook-up with Adam Booth.

The Mexican has been expected to make a defence of his title on June 8 in Los Angeles with Conlan offered a slot by his promoter, Top Rank, but the prospect of delivering an explosive performance on home turf this summer with a full camp behind him is too good to turn down.

“I’m going straight into this one (Féile),” he confirmed.

“I think it’s a good thing that I’ll be boxing in this one next and can fully focus on it. Belfast deserves the big build-up this is going to get.

“This is going to be a big fight and I think I need a 12-week camp to deliver the type of performance Féile deserves. I really want to put in a massive performance, a championship performance.

“This is going to be like a world title fight for me. We’re looking to do maybe 12,000 or 15,000 outdoors, whatever it will be. In Ireland, we don’t get a lot of these big outdoor arena shows, so for me to be able to do that just makes it all the more special.”

With this being such a mammoth event, an opponent worthy of the occasion is of course required and the identity of the man who will man the opposite corner is expected to be confirmed next week.

A world title opportunity may not be far away for the West Belfast man, but it is still several fights in the future most likely, so an impressive win on August 3 is likely to hasten that march.

Former Olympic Games’ foe, Vladimir Nikitin is an obvious target given Conlan’s promoters Top Rank signed the Russian with a view to them rematching in the paid ranks, but whether the 29 year-old will be keen to travel deep into hostile territory remains to be seen.

Conlan has suggested recently that a move from featherweight back down to super-bantamweight is the plan going forward, but he confirmed that the switch will be after his Féile fight and is confident the 122lb division is where he can thrive on the world stage.

“After this one, I will move down to super-bantam and that will be the route,” he revealed.

“I’m big (at the weight), but I have been making featherweight easily enough. I know making super-bantam will be tougher, but I don’t think it will be too hard and my team think it’s very possible that I can do that and do it comfortably.”

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