Belfast native, Jamie Conlan, aims to continue his rise through the world ranks by claiming victory over former world title challenger, Yader Cardoza, at The Waterfront Hall in Belfast, on Friday.
Conlan is currently ranked number two by the WBO, number nine by the IBF and will look to make noise in the WBC rankings on Friday when he squares off with Cardoza for the WBC International Silver title.
“I spent a couple of weeks in Los Angeles, at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, then at Manny Robles’ Rock Gym where (WBO featherweight champion) Oscar Valdez, (World Amateur silver medallist) Jason Quigley and my brother Michael (a Commonwealth, European and World Amateur champion) train,” said Conlan.
“There’s always a real buzz at ‘The Rock,’ always a crowd to watch the sparring and, being around such quality fighters, you have to up your own standards.
“I sparred (unbeaten WBO Super-Bantam boss) Jesse Magdaleno, a Columbian called Oscar Negrete (15-0) and Joselito Velasquez, a highly rated Mexican Olympian, and everyone is there to prove themselves. You had to be right on point. But it really helped with the step up from British-European to world level. You need to push yourself to the maximum every session.
“It was great to spend time with Michael and catch up. Before he relocated, we lived in a house together, and he was always a part of my camps if he wasn’t away with the Ireland High Performance set up. I’m four years older but don’t spar him anymore because he’s world champion, too big, too good! Honestly, pro world champions come out of their way to watch him spar.”
Conlan had been scheduled to return to the ring in February but was forced to withdraw due to a chest infection.
“It completely knocked me out for a couple of days but, on the plus side, the postponement certainly made dropping the weight easier,” said Conlan.
Although keen to keep things technical, Conlan admits he may end up in another war.
“My offence always flows pretty naturally, but we’ve been working on defence, controlling distance with the jab and avoiding crazy wars. That’s what’ll win me the fight on Friday.
“You know, I never go ‘hell for leather’ in sparring. I’m always nice and technical, box and move, very comfortable. But a red mist descends on fight night. If there’s a lull in the action, I feel obliged to give the fans something for their hard-earned money!”