Michael Conlan may be boxing in the shadow of Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane this weekend, but the Belfast man believes it is the ideal chance for him to shine as a pro.
Pacquaio defends his WBO world welterweight title against Australian Jeff Horn at the Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon local time – the wee hours of Sunday morning Irish time – with Conlan featuring on the support bill in what will be his third professional bout.
While the fight date offers great international exposure for the 25-year-old Irishman, it will be his first undercard slot after two headline fights in New York and Chicago.
And the world amateur champion believes a slightly ‘lower-key’ outing against local fighter Jarrett Owen will afford him the opportunity to box without the intense focus that surrounded his first paid outings in the US.
“There was so much attention on me in New York and Chicago. There won’t be that added pressure here of being the main event, and having to sell the show, or put on an unbelievable performance because all the focus is on you,” said Conlan, attending yesterday’s main event pre-fight press conference where Pacquiao and Horn went head to head.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love being the main event, but I want to see how I get on here on Pacquiao’s big show,” continued the Belfast native, whose last two opponents, American Tim Ibarra and Mexican Alfredo Chanez, both failed to offer much of a threat with the latter proving to be a particularly awkward foe.
“When you’re fighting journeymen it’s hard to put on an amazing performance because they’re only in survival mode, but this time I’ll be able to go in there and do my thing,” said Conlan ahead of his six-round bout against Brisbane’s Owen, who carries a winning 5-4-3 record.
The 25-year-old Irishman is expected to attract a strong expatriate support from the Irish community Down Under.
But he is particularly excited by the prospect of fighting on the same bill as the legendary eight-weight world champion Pacquiao, who is a money-on favourite to defeat Horn in Brisbane, with the fight card set for a local time of Sunday afternoon to suit US television.
“He’s one of my favourite fighters and he has been one of my favourite fighters for the last decade,” said Conlan. “I’m honoured to fight on a Pacquiao undercard. It’s a special, special event.
“They offered me a slot on Pacquiao’s undercard for my first fight, but I turned it down because I wanted the big debut [in New York].
“It worked out better this way though.
“I’m fighting in Australia on a world-tour kind of bill and a there’ll be a lot of Irish here.”
Meanwhile, Pacquiao has admitted he is keen on a rematch against Floyd Mayweather.
“Why not? If there’s a chance, I’m willing,” said Pacquiao when quizzed on his desire to reverse his May 2015 loss.
The Filipino also took the opportunity to dismiss his old rival’s much-hyped August 26 bout against UFC star Conor McGregor.
“Mayweather will win… but it’s going to be a boring fight,” said Pacquiao.
“Both fighters will be moving around… I don’t want to use [or say] ‘running’ because other fighters don’t use that word,” added the 38-year-old in what appeared to be a cheeky reference to Mayweather’s evasive style.
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