BOXING last year on the undercard of a Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez main event in Arlington, Texas was quite the shot in the arm for Northampton’s Kieron Conway, though he admits that doing the same in Las Vegas, his assignment this weekend, brings with it an altogether different kind of appeal.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do because I’ve always been a big, big Elvis fan,” Conway told Boxing News this morning (September 14) in Las Vegas. “I don’t think a lot of people know this, but I had a huge Elvis upbringing, with my parents often playing his music.

“I always wanted to do what Elvis did and perform here because of this. Winning this fight would mean the world to me. It’s a box ticked and it’s also a massive launchpad for me.”

The same could be said of his previous fight on a Canelo event, of course. That night, in Arlington, Conway battled the unbeaten Souleymane Cissokho over 10 rounds and, despite dropping the Frenchman in the ninth, was ultimately edged out on the cards via split decision. This time, with even more at stake, and with the additional pull of winning in the land of Elvis, Conway, a middleweight, is determined to leave nothing to chance.

“That fight (last year) I learnt a lot, both inside and outside the ring,” he said. “There were things going on outside the ring and, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have taken that fight. But I took it, and I wasn’t letting anything stop me. I learnt a lot from it, and won’t make the same mistakes twice. I’m now here fresh and ready to go.”

Interestingly, though both Conway and his next opponent, Austin Williams, are 26 years of age, their careers to date have been completely different, with Conway, a pro since 2017, by far the more tested and proven of the two, with a couple of losses demonstrating this.

Williams, on the other hand, turned pro only in 2019 and has so far, in amassing an 11-0 (9) record, remained both undefeated and pretty much untested.

“That will be crucial,” Conway, 18-2-1 (4), said of his greater experience. “Without that experience you don’t know what it’s like in a pro fight, on a pro stage, with pro gloves on. This is different to sparring and different to the amateurs. It’s totally different and, when you’ve not experienced that, and it first comes around, it’s difficult to brace yourself for it.

“I feel like this is his moment for that to happen. He will finally get his first taste of being in the trenches and being in a hard fight where things aren’t going to plan.

“When I got that loss in Texas last year, I had to ask and answer a lot of questions. I believe I have found the answers to those questions now and covered all the things I need to cover.

“I’m definitely not here to lose. I’m here to win. I don’t want to experience that feeling of losing ever again. I don’t want to have to go away and ask myself those same questions again. I’m 26 and am at a vital point in my career. I’m here to do a job now and put my career on top.”

No stranger to setbacks, and no stranger to rebounding from them, either, Conway is at the stage now where he has established himself as a solid, dependable contender, but probably needs a statement win if he hopes to become something more. This, for sure, could arrive in the form of a win over Williams, and indeed, with so much at stake on Saturday night, Conway has treated the fight and the opportunity with all the care and attention it both deserves and will likely require.

“I watch all my opponents,” he said, “and am a big boxing student. I don’t go home and chill and play PlayStation. I go home and watch boxing. I don’t sleep in the dark, I fall asleep watching boxing. So, obviously, I’ve made sure I’ve watched everything I possibly could of him. I feel like I’ve watched so much of him I’ve already fought him.”

In terms of what he has seen, Conway went on to explain: “He’s obviously very athletic, sharp and explosive. But I have a lot of experience and my boxing skills will come out on top. I’m the superior boxer, technically and mentally. I’ve been in the trenches, I know how it feels, and this is now my time to put my foot on the gas and take over. Every time he does something, I’m going to match it. He won’t be able to dominate and get things his own way the way he has done with other fighters. I’m also going to be the bigger fighter. I’m a big middleweight and when I get in the ring I’ll be closer to light-heavyweight.”

Big, experienced, and battled-hardened, Conway proceeded to then emphasise the need and his intention to be on Williams from first bell to last, like a hound dog, if you will. He also knows the time is now for a little less conversation and a little more action, as well as the importance of stepping on Austin Williams’ blue suede shoes, dirtying both the shoes and the American’s unblemished professional record in the process.