Michael Conlan considers Jordan Gill a “live” opponent who will give him a difficult fight because Gill’s career is on the line.
The favored Conlan’s career is also on the line in their 12-round, 130-pound fight Saturday night at The SSE Arena in Conlan’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The 2016 Olympian will make his debut as a full-fledged junior lightweight when he squares off against Gill in his first fight since Luis Alberto Lopez dropped and stopped Conlan in the fifth round of their fight for Lopez’s IBF featherweight championship May 27 at The SSE Arena.
England’s Gill was also stopped in the fourth round of his last fight by a former IBF featherweight champ, Spain’s Kiko Martinez, 13 months ago. Upsetting the hometown hero would reinvigorate Gill’s career and ruin the 32-year-old Conlan’s comeback after he parted ways with trainer Adam Booth and promoter Top Rank following his devastating defeat to Lopez.
“I know he’s a good fighter,” Conlan said during a press conference Thursday in Belfast. “I know he has skills. He’s a smart boxer 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 you know, going to Miami, training with Pedro [Diaz], I have a new lease on life. I feel like I just hit the reset button. And as we spoke about recently, you’re not gonna teach me anything new in eight weeks.
“He’s just dusted me off and brought me back to doing what I do best. So, that’s what I’m excited about. I’m excited about the performance and putting in what we’ve been working on and things we’ve been doing in the gym in the ring on fight night. It’s gonna be a great night.”
Conlan (18-2, 9 KOs) has been knocked out in both of his featherweight world title fights, first in the 12th round by former WBA featherweight champ Leigh Wood (28-3, 17 KOs) and then by Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs). If he defeats Gill (27-2-1, 8 KOs), a rematch with Wood would become more marketable because they’re both boxing in the 130-pound division these days.
Their first fight won BoxingScene.com’s “Fight of the Year” award for 2022, yet Conlan understands that he cannot afford to look toward a second shot at England’s Wood just yet.
“I’m in a great place mentally, physically, everything,” Conlan said. “You know, I’m in the best place I’ve been in 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 win Saturday night and put on a destructive performance.”
DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card headlined by Conlan-Gill worldwide. Undercard coverage is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. GMT in the United Kingdom and Ireland and 2 p.m. ET in the United States.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.