If Micheal Conlan wins World Championships gold in October he will have to go down as the greatest ever Irish amateur claimed non other than Irish fight legend Paddy Barnes himself this week.
But while he has to wait to get ‘the best ever’ crown placed upon his head Barnes believes his fellow Belfast puncher is already ‘the most skillful boxer’ Ireland has ever produced.
Despite admitting to being below par throughout the recent European Championship, the fighter who has already qualified for RIO 2016, went on to claim gold and picked up the coveted Boxer of the Tournament award and Barnes was suitably impressed.
The fighter, who in jest told Irish-Boxing.com that he didn’t want Conlan to collect European gold prior to the tournament was full of praise when talking about the 24 year old to the Irish News.
“What other boxers have you seen who can fight orthodox, southpaw, front foot back foot – and all of them with complete ease?” asked Barnes.
“There’s nobody else I can think of. He has to be the most skilful boxer ever to come out of Ireland. Most of it isn’t even taught, it’s just natural skill. His dad has helped him a lot, but Mick has it all.
“He was nowhere near his best out there, but he still controlled every fight. If he’d been away on a proper training camp before he’d probably have stopped a few of those boys.”
Conlan, who banked Olympic bronze in London 2012, has Rio in his sights and Barnes thinks the younger brother of pro Jamie Conlan can go all the way in the next Olympics.
“Mick has improved a lot since the last Olympics. At 52 he was tall for the weight, very skinny, very weak. He struggled to make the weight. But now he’s grown into 56 kilos, he makes it comfortably and he’s very strong.
“He has to be the favourite next year in Rio. He has that belief he can win, and he really, really believes he’s going to win the gold medal.”