/ Boxing

Michael Conlan aiming for a better showing in the upcoming Commonwealth Games

Updated: Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 15:07 | Comments

Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes
Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes

With his confidence boosted by a series of accolades from a glittering junior career, Michael Conlan arrived at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi four years ago convinced he was ready to claim senior gold.

Instead the then 17-year-old from Belfast was knocked out in his first fight by Australia's Jason Moloney and had to sit on the sidelines for the rest of the competition watching five of his Northern Ireland team-mates reach the medal rostrum.

Four years on even more is expected of Conlan in the bantamweight division in Glasgow next month after a startling post-Delhi trajectory which saw him claim Olympic bronze in London and a European silver medal in Minsk last year.

But after a post-London exodus which saw the likes of silver medallist John Joe Nevin and heavyweight Tommy McCarthy join the professional ranks, perhaps the biggest surprise concerning Conlan is that he is still around to lace up the gloves in Glasgow at all.

A bona fide star in his home city alongside his best friend and fellow Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes, Conlan admits he has been sorely tempted to turn over and is still not quite ready to commit to another two years to Rio.

Conlan said: "I came very close to turning professional at one point with a number of promoters making offers and I must admit it was very tempting to do so.

"But I decided the time wasn't right and I wanted to go to Glasgow and right the wrongs from Delhi. I was 17 and I thought I had everything but what happened there really drove me on.

"I could be going to Rio in two years but the truth is I haven't made up my mind. It's all about what's best for me at the end of the day and that could be winning a gold medal and basically writing my own cheque.

"On the other hand if the right offer came along I could be gone as well. It depends what happens and what is offered, and what I believe is best for my career."

A future in the paid ranks at some point looks certain for Conlan, an exciting and marketable fighter who has waged three memorable wars with his Welsh rival Andrew Selby - coming up narrowly short each time.

Unfortunately Commonwealth Games boxing fans will be denied the opportunity to see part four of the fantastic rivalry because Conlan elected to move up to the 56kg category in the wake of his London success.

"Even at the Olympics I felt a little bit weight-drained and I think that showed when I got to the medal stages and I felt very weak," added Conlan.

"It is a bit disappointing that I'm not going to get another chance against Selby because everyone knows how I feel about the way those decisions went, though I have to say he's a great champion."

Barnes is another Northern Ireland squad members who has resisted professionalism and the pair are likely to make more headlines in Glasgow after their London antics which included a highly public fight for more Twitter followers.

"It's great having Paddy around because we're best mates and we're both at the lighter end of the weights," added Conlan.

"There's the extra bonus that if I'm struggling to make the weight, I know there's always Paddy finding it even harder."

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