MICHAEL CONLAN is entering a crucial phase of his career.
The 31-year-old featherweight has parted ways with trainer Adam Booth and is currently a promotional free agent.
In May Conlan 18-2 (9) suffered the second defeat of his career when Luis Alberto Lopez proved to be too powerful for the Northern Irishman. The fight started at a fast pace where each man landed effective punches, but it was the IBF champion that was doing more damage and in round five finished the job. It was a shattering defeat for Conlan in front of his passionate supporters inside Belfast’s SSE Arena on a night which began with excitement and the hope that he would win his first world title.
Pastures new now beckon for the former Olympian who is on the hunt for his third trainer and potentially a new promoter.
“A change was the right thing,” said Conlan when discussing his amicable split from Booth.
“I’ve been with Adam for five years. You don’t change something that’s working, you change something that isn’t working. We have two losses together. You could probably say it’s not working a little bit so let’s change it up and look for a winning game plan.”
Initial plans to return to the ring in December may not work out for Conlan if he cannot find the trainer which works best for him. He plans to explore options both in the UK and on America’s east coast. And rather than rush in and choose the first coach he clicks with Conlan wants to take his time even if that means changing plans for his comeback.
Conlan will also assess what will be the best promotional option for him moving forward. Having worked with Top Rank since the start of his career he is now free to look around at what best suits him. But as he told Boxing News his future may still lie with Bob Arum and co.
“That fight [against Lopez] was the last fight for me [with Top Rank]. I was already out of contract, but we renegotiated a contract for that fight and there’s a grace period of negotiations before we move forward. Top Rank still want to keep me and it’s nice to hear that but at the same time I want to look at every option.
“I’m in a point in my career where I can look at all the options and see what’s best for me and that’s what I plan to do. If it’s Top Rank, great. If they have the best options for me, fantastic. If someone else comes in [and] has better options and better plans, I’ll probably look at [them]. I’m not tied down.”
The career of Michael Conlan has delivered on a couple of fronts. Massive events from his pro debut at the Madison Square Garden Theatre to headlining the incredible Falls Park three times. In the ring he was involved in a modern-day classic against Leigh Wood at Nottingham Arena last year. But in the two biggest fights of his career Conlan has lost each time to Wood and to Lopez. Ambitions of becoming a world champion rightly remain strong and with some freedom in his career he now has time to plan the best route forward for what he hopes will be another shot at a title.
“I know there’s plenty of available options,” he said.
“I still have massive pull in terms of fanbase and organising fights. I can still do big numbers and that’s the main thing. If you’ve got such a loyal fanbase it helps your career and that’s one of the things I’m grateful for.
“I’m still hungry for the world title. That’s always been my goal, to be a world champion and I’ve got to keep my eyes on that goal. At the same time them big fights, which are there to be made, there’s a lot of money to be made and that’s something I look at still.”
One of those big fights could come from the winner or loser between Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington. Nottingham meets Leeds at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield on October 7. Wood, who holds the WBA belt at 126lbs, has avoided his mandatory challenger the dangerous Otabek Khomatov for the time being and Conlan expects the winner of the all-British contest will move up to super-featherweight.
“Wood-Warrington, the winner or loser of that is a huge fight for me. It’s definitely a possibility I will look at,” he said.