By: Sean Crose
“It’s going to be tricky at times,” Belfast fighter Michael Conlan has said to the BBC, “but I believe I will go out and win – and win comfortably.” Indeed, this weekend the 31 year old Conlan will be trying to win a world title for the second time. The Irishman’s first crack at a major belt was back in March of 2022 when he ended up on the losing end of a stunning battle with Leigh Wood. He may have come up short, but Conlan’s impressive attempt to snatch away Wood’s WBA featherweight strap only added to his reputation as a game and determined fighter.
Now this Saturday he’ll be facing IBF featherweight king Luis Alberto Lopez, who himself impressed more than a few people when he won his divisional crown by besting Josh Warrington last December. Indeed, Mexico’s Lopez, who traveled to England to beat England’s Warrington is confident enough to battle Conlan in Conlan’s native Northern Ireland on Saturday. Conlan, however, exudes confidence of his own. “My emotions are cool and calm,” he said to the BBC. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great night.”
One advantage Conlan has walking into Saturday’s fight, besides the fact that he’ll be facing Lopez at home, is the fact that he knows what it’s like to be in the spotlight. Conlan has essentially been a star since his controversial yet endearing presence in the 2012 Olympic Games. “I’ve experienced big nights and big atmospheres on many occasions now,” Conlan said. As for the defeat at the gloved hands of Wood, the 18-1 fighter has clearly given his lone loss some thought.
“I lost on a momentous occasion where I had loads of pressure on me. I put pressure on myself,” he said. “I kind of fed into the atmosphere, so I’ve learned from all that and now we go on to this one.” Indeed, Conlan is a man with the ability to look at the big picture. “It’s all experience, having to go through those types of fights and those type of wars and seeing different things,” he said. “It’s special to have the fight here. I’m honored and it’s always great to have the support.”
Adam Booth, Conlan’s trainer, views matters practically. He clearly doesn’t think Conlan had to start from scratch after the loss to Wood, just find a way to get better. “It’s been business as usual with some improvements,” he said of preparations for Saturday. “He is as ready as he ever has been,” he added of Conlan.