Michael Conlan insists that working with Pedro Diaz has helped him to rediscover some old skills and his love of boxing.
In May, the Irishman was knocked out by WBO featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez. The defeat was Conlan’s second unsuccessful attempt at a featherweight world title (Leigh Wood stopped Conlan in the final round of a thriller in March 2022) and forced him to consider his future in the sport.
Eventually, the 32-year-old decided that he couldn’t call time on his career without committing fully to a third challenge for a world title.
He decided to leave his trainer, Adam Booth, and relocated to Miami where he has been training with the renowned Diaz. Training footage has shown Diaz imploring Conlan to use the angles and footwork that earned him such success as an amateur.
Conlan fights Jordan Gill at super featherweight in Belfast this weekend and is eager to show what they have been working on.
“I’m in a great place mentally and physically,” Conlan (18-2, 9 KO’s) said at Thursday’s final press conference. “I’m in the best place I’ve been for a long time. I’m really excited about fighting rather than just being excited about it being over and having the win. I’m looking forward to the actual fight and I believe I’ll go win there on Saturday and put on a destructive performance.”
Conlan isn’t the only one to clean house ahead of another this crossroads fight. Gill is also moving up from featherweight and has left long time trainer Dave Coldwell’s training base in Sheffield. He will have Barry Smith in his corner this weekend.
At his best, Gill (27-2-1, 8 KO’s) is a slick, clever fighter but has struggled for form over the past couple of years. His knockout of Karim Guerfi made for sensational television but Gill had to come through a serious amount of punishment before landing a fight ending uppercut in the ninth and eight months later, Kiko Martinez stopped him in emphatic fashion. Conlan and Gill have sparred in the past and Conlan is aware that if he isn’t at his best, his latest attempt at a world title could end before it has began.
“I know Jordan. I know he’s a good boxer and has skills. He’s smart when he wants to be and if you’re not on your game, Jordan will beat you so I need to be on my game but going to Miami and training with Pedro, I have a new lease of life. I feel like I’ve hit the reset button. He’s not going to teach me anything new in eight weeks but he’s dusted me off and brought me back.”