“Yesterday [Tuesday] alone I had three different opponents, so hopefully this one sticks,” lamented Jamie, who now looks set to meet Slovakian journeyman Elemir Rafael over four rounds. “It’s been a bit of a nightmare trying to pin down an opponent; I’ve been down to fight, then not down to fight but training non-stop in case something did come off. John Breen has kept me well focused.”
26-year-old Rafael has won 19 fights out of 74 so will at least come to have a go at Conlan, who needed more of a test rather than going over old ground against the likes of Anwar Alfadi or Delroy Spencer. Elemir recently went six rounds with good quality Frenchman Jerome Thomas and was seen in England last month extending Liam Richards over four rounds. Even though any sort of opponent is better than further spells of inactivity, it is disappointing to think that Paul Edwards was originally expected to test Jamie on this show. Edwards withdrew and a whole list of names also went thumbs down when offered the opportunity to step in.
“I don’t know why they won’t fight me – am I really that bad looking?” Conlan joked. “I don’t think I’ve scared them [British and Commonwealth fighters] off but they just don’t seem to want a fight with me. Frank Maloney said that nobody wants it, they’re all saying no. Martin Power said no straight away. I would have fought Paul Edwards in his home town as well, so what more could you ask for?”
Absent since June 2011 and a win in Craigavon over the aforementioned Del Spencer, Conlan at least enjoyed the accolade of being named Irish Prospect of the Year at the recent BUI-affiliated awards ceremony. He has also been promised a big chance if he extends his winning run.
“I’ve been told by Maloney that I could fight Chris Edwards in the summer so if he does that then I’ll be more than happy. Even someone like Mike Robinson would be a lovely eight-rounder for me. He comes forward all day which would be brilliant. I want the British title this year. I stalled in 2011 with fights falling through and my last bout was in Craigavon last June. This next one will be either a four or six-rounder. I’ve already done an eight-rounder so I’m eligible for titles.”
Hopefully the time will arrive when Conlan (along with fellow Belfast battler Luke Wilton) gets a chance to break into the title mix that has so far managed to shut them out. Jamie doesn’t have too many requests, apart from nailing down that overdue shot at a belt.
“I don’t want to be a prospect anymore,” he concluded. “I want to be a champion.”