/ Boxing

Michael Conlan relishing rivalry with Andrew Selby

Updated: Thursday, 29 Aug 2013 16:31 | Comments

Michael Conlan (L) against Andrew Selby during January's 50-56kg bout in the World Series of Boxing
Michael Conlan (L) against Andrew Selby during January's 50-56kg bout in the World Series of Boxing

Michael Conlan might be forgiven for wishing he had seen the back of his flyweight rival Andrew Selby.

In each of his three previous meetings with the Welshman, Ireland's Olympic bronze medallist has come up agonisingly short, but he cannot help keeping his fingers crossed for a fourth bout at the World Championships in Kazakhstan in October.

The Falls Road 21-year-old has become a big name in Belfast after returning from last year's London Olympics with a bronze medal in the bag - ironically, an event in which world number one Selby fell out at the quarter-final stage.

Conlan said: "It's as much of a pleasure to fight Andrew as it is for people to watch it - we've got a great rivalry going and I hope it is going to continue.

"Ideally I'll get my fourth chance in a World Championship final or semi-final and get my revenge over him when it really matters.

"I feel I've nicked two of them so far and lost one, but they've all been close enough that you can't really argue either way.

"We're both top of our game and he proves why he's number one every time he's in the ring. He's the guy who motivates me to get out of bed every morning and go running - I know he's trained hard, so I know I have to train even harder."

"For me to still be a part of that area and show what I've done, hopefully helps some other kids choose a better path" - Michael Conlan

The pair's rivalry began in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Championships which Selby nicked by a single point, followed by a second success in a thrilling World Series of Boxing bout in London last January.

And there was more heartbreak for Conlan in this year's European Championship final in Minsk, when he fell to a tight split decision defeat.

Selby and Conlan are currently ranked first and third in the world amateur rankings and there is every chance they will square off again in Kazakhstan - not to mention a seemingly guaranteed meeting in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next summer.

"Usually when we fight it is somewhere in eastern Europe so it would be brilliant to meet in the Commonwealth Games final in front of our home fans," added Conlan.

"It will be just like a home nation Games so I'm really looking forward to it. I went to the Commonwealths in Delhi in 2010 but I was just a kid and I didn't perform well. It is important because Northern Ireland has such a strong boxing team."

Conlan also spoke of his happiness at progress being made in his native city of Belfast, with the problems of the past fading. "We're all pretty well known in Belfast now," added Conlan.

"I've even got my own mural, which is great because you used to just see Republican stuff or dead people on murals, so it shows things are looking to the future.

"I'm from a fairly poverty-stricken area where there was a lot of car crime and other stuff but it's starting to clear up now. For me to still be a part of that area and show what I've done, hopefully helps some other kids choose a better path."

Conlan, who expects to once again sign up for the American franchise in the new World Series of Boxing season, has no immediate plans to turn professional and is looking long-term towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

With Selby also committing to the amateur ranks, the best acts of their increasingly storied rivalry are almost certainly still to come.

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