We all want value for money. Go to a restaurant, eat a meal, see the bill and you immediately ask yourself: “Was it worth it?” A full belly doesn’t mean you’ll always return. Atmosphere, service, seating etc etc.
The carnivore in us loves a good steak. At heart, we are animals. Given the chance we love nothing more than to bay for blood.
Combat sports in the 21st century has saw an Octagon become cathartic for fans to get the kind of fix that boxing can’t provide. They brawl like their life depended on it at times. There’s nothing sweet about the science.
Pay your two-figure or three-figure sum to see Jamie Conlan and you’ll likely go home satisfied. You got value for money, you would watch him again if you have a taste for wars, drama and moments in the squared circle that could easily be accompanied by music from Rocky.
Thirty years old, hailing from Belfast, Jamie Conlan knows that the paying public have a right to be entertained with the kind of jaw dropping moments of legal violence that only boxing can provide. Conlan knows that their hard-earned money wants to be spent on something that would make them return.
The elder brother of novice sensation Michael also sees the other side of the equation.
“Fights like that make a career a lot shorter,” the (19-0, 11 KOs) Super Flyweight told British Boxers.
Fights against Junior Granados, Anthony Nelson and last month against Yader Cardoza. Thirty rounds of adrenaline pumping, see-saw action that was worth every penny whether you were there in Dublin, London or Belfast or watching on Boxnation. But three fighters that are not exactly a Murderer’s Row at 115lbs. Conlan doesn’t do easy. He makes life hard for himself but…
Fight of the year contender! Jamie Conlan v Anthony Nelson Highlights
“In them two fights (against Granados and Nelson) I felt like it was ‘Okay you hit me now. I gotta hit you three times now and take one back’, it was proper gunslinging stuff. Silly.”
“I hope that I’ll be able to change it,” he added. “But I really don’t know because when them fights happen, as I said to the team and everyone around me, I didn’t know what was going to happen. It wasn’t kind of me. It was something deep down that was making me fight the way I was fighting. All I’m working on is sticking to the gameplan, and when that kinda stuff happens to realise I do have 12 rounds. I don’t have to go gunslinging, go for a shoot-out with anyone. Just sticking to the game plan, get back on the jab, get back to what we’ve been working on in the gym.”
Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.
His trainer Danny Vaughan always has a plan too. One that he would love to see implemented from the first bell to the last. Often Conlan will come back to his stool for 60 seconds with both of them knowing that they’re in the kind of hellacious fight they’ve been a part of before. Conlan was in trouble against Granados, Nelson and Cardoza. He’s went to the well too often, so often that when he inevitably travels down there again he’ll probably see his name scratched somewhere: ‘Jamie Conlan was here’.
Put yourself in his shoes however. You’ve just been dropped, you’ve beaten the count, you’ve survived the round and now you’re on a stool listening to one minute of instructions. The fighter is trying desperately to be a sponge, absorb it all and get the fundamentals going again. Then there’s that cartoon devil on the other shoulder. ‘He hit ya in the mouth, go out there and smack him’.
Conlan recalled the fight against Granados. Back on his stool at the end of the fourth round. Another pulsating 180 seconds where the word gameplan didn’t even exist.
Gutsy Jamie Conlan rallies off canvas to defeat Yader Cardoza
“In the Granados fight I could see what he (Danny) was saying,” Conlan said.
“At times, he (Granados) was a lot better than he looked. Inside, his head movement and his positioning was really, really good. So, when you were going to throw the uppercut he was able to ride the shot.
“Sometimes, especially that night in Dublin the crowd was electric and frantic and very loud. I knew I just need that reassurance. When he hit me, I think in the 7th, after I had a really bad round I remember just asking Danny ‘Can I still win this?’ That’s all I need to know in the corner, didn’t need to know anything else. The shots I could see, they were right in front of me, and I could see the openings but I just needed a win. Sometimes in them moments you pick up on one or two words. You don’t hear the rest, you don’t hear everything else. If he says get your hands up I’m not doing it (laughs) so obviously not listening!”
Jamie Conlan Vs Junior Granados Highlights
Ring smarts will have to be applied at some point in the testing fights to come. Conlan doesn’t want a short career, but he knows he can say all the sensible things in the world yet at some point he will be dragged back to those painful, sink or swim situations. The type that he has to punch his way out of, the type that we should show a greater appreciation for.
Yes, it pays the bills, it gets them that nice Range Rover, the nice house but guys like Conlan are also doing it for us. He wants us to go home or go to sleep knowing that we got value for money, and more crucially that we will watch him again and potentially roar him all the way to a world title shot.
“I just get dragged into these situations that come up in the fights that don’t come up in camp at all. We set up for 10 weeks with a set plan, the hundreds of rounds of sparring that we do are never like that. It’s really mind blowing. It’s shocking to everyone around me that the fights turn like that. But when it happened the first time against Granados I really got a good gut check of how much I wanted everything with my career.
“You can never really judge yourself until you’re in them situations and up against that kind of opponent who, I dunno, is just relentless. Then when you get hit with a body shot – ten times worse than the head shot because your brain is thinking overtime but your body is unable to do anything.
“I realise now that I have one shot at this career. I’ve been close to letting it slip and I don’t want to make any more mistakes. That’s why I’m putting a lot more into camp and putting a lot more into my work, taking myself off to L.A, getting the best of sparring because I have a great opportunity and we’re still winning and still going forward.
“Some people might think the goal (of a world title) is too hard to chase, but it’s something that I feel like I’m willing to chase and sacrifice everything for.”