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Sunday 17 December 2017

Jamie eyes up title tilt

Conlan 'eager to execute his plan' and dethrone Ancajas

Jamie Conlan
Jamie Conlan

The high-voltage violence unleashed in a Jamie Conlan fight is enough to power the national grid.

For years, while his younger brother Michael was becoming the stylish poster boy for amateur boxing, Jamie was punching his blood-splattered way to greatness on undercards from Belfast to Gillingham.

It was eight years ago this month that Jamie made his debut - in November 2009 - with a points win on the card of Martin Rogan's explosive Commonwealth title fight with Sam Sexton at the Odyssey Arena.

An unbeaten 19 fights (11 won by KO) later, Conlan is back at the same venue, now called the SSE Arena. This time he's top of the bill in a world title fight.

Tonight he'll be fighting to relieve formidable Jerwin Ancajas of his IBF World super flyweight belt.

It'll be a third title defence for the 25-year-old Filipino, whose record of 27-1-1 (18KOs) indicates he's no pushover.

But Ancajas should be warned that easy fights are anathema to Conlan, who you feel has the ability to turn opening an envelope into a bloody brawl. Jamie's bubbling with excitement ahead of tonight's challenge.

"It's everything I've worked for over the years all crammed into one night," he says. "I've never been in a happier or more positive place. Camp was brilliant. We've worked on a great game plan and I'm eager to execute it."

You might think Jamie was talking about taking the visitor from the Philippines for a relaxed pre-theatre dinner.

Because in a world of charismatic stars, Conlan, aka The Mexican, is Mr Nice.

Until he steps into the ring.

Last March, I sat in his dressing-room following his victorious WBC International Silver super flyweight fight with Yader Cardoza.

Abattoir

I've seen less blood in an abattoir. The only difference was the shiny prize on display, the WBC belt. Jamie's never been in a fight that's less than thrilling. Once again, he'd had to ship punishment and pick himself up off the canvas to hunt down his opponent and win.

"This is not uncharted territory," he laughed ruefully.

"But I don't think I've ever really been hurt."

I know where he gets the will to win. His Dublin father, John, the IABA head coach for Ulster. "It's my dad's fault," said Jamie. "He instilled in me and Michael since we were kids that, no matter what, we're going to win."

Tonight's card, which marks Carl Frampton's return, will be screened live on BT Sport and BoxNation.

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