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Daily News Social: Conlan’s options, Galahad’s deal and Tyson Meets Khabib

In a new series, published every weekday on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.

Belfast’s Michael Conlan’s (16-0, 8 KOs) reign as the interim WBA featherweight titlist could be over before even begins if the 29-year-old manages to secure a fight against the winner of WBO super-bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton and WBC and WBA holder Brandon Figueroa, who meet on 11 September. 

Conlan decisioned TJ Doheny (now 22-3, 16 KOs) at Falls Park on Friday night to secure a lightly regarded portion of the WBA’s 126lb titles, but he has not ruled out the possibility of flitting between 122 and 126lbs to ensure he gets the right fights.  

“I’m still looking to fight the winner of Stephen Fulton and Brandon Figueroa,” he said, as reported by David Mohan of the Belfast Telegraph. “The 126 (featherweight belt) just came up but I can fluctuate between both. 

“I’m a giant at both weights. I’m big at 126 but I’m even bigger at 122 so the opportunities are there in both decisions and I’m happy to take them. I won’t think what the plan is now. Jamie (Conlan, brother and manager) and Adam (Booth, trainer) are the bosses. I’m going to go away on a holiday next Thursday and enjoy life again.” 

With fans back in attendance, the atmosphere gave Conlan a boost ahead of the fight. It was his first outing back in Belfast since August 2019 and he produced a typically assured, if less than scintillating, display to earn a decision win that sent his fans home happy. 

“I didn’t think 2019 could be beaten but tonight beat it,” he said, recalling his last outing on home soil. “Maybe it was the fight that added to it, but that atmosphere. At the start tonight, I was nervous, but as the warm-up went on, I could feel myself rising and thought this is what I’m here for.” 

Conlan is trained by Adam Booth, who believes that his man is coming into form at just the right time as Conlan eyes titles at both super-bantam and featherweight. “It was a huge progression in terms of him being a professional fighter,” added Booth. “He’s showing some experience now and we can see that he’s not just a boxer, but there’s a fighting side. I’ve always said he’s a world class body puncher and he showed that tonight.” 

Liverpool’s Jazza Dickens (30-4, 11 KOs) fell short of a world title on Saturday night when losing in 11 rounds to Kid Galahad on Eddie Hearn’s second Fight Camp show. Dickens ended up with a broken nose, a bad cut to his left eye and a damaged cheek after being the recipient of a calm, composed and clinical display from the new IBF World featherweight title-holder.  

Dickens posted on social media following the defeat, his first thought was for the fans who have followed him throughout his career. ‘Sorry to let you down’’ he wrote. ‘And congratulations to Kid Galahad on a fantastic performance. Thank you to my fantastic team who have given just as much as me. But tonight, wasn’t to be. I’ll lick my wounds and see you soon. Thanks.’ 

Dickens fought on until the bitter end, but some felt that he should have been pulled out earlier in the contest. “Dickens is a brave man but I think they made him take too much punishment,” said heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte when speaking to BBC’s Five Live. “His nose went, his eyes went, but his corner should have protected him better tonight.” 

Galahad was jubilant in defeat, feeling that this is payback for his hotly disputed split decision defeat to Josh Warrington for the same belt in 2019. “I just beat the guy who beat Leigh Wood,” declared Galahad in the aftermath of his win. “This says IBF champion of the whole world. This is not a regular title.” 

“I’ve been waiting 19 years for this and it’s finally here, I’ve finally got it,” he added. “Brendan Ingle told me that I’m going to win everything from super-bantamweight up to lightweight. Nobody believed me and everyone doubted me when I said I’d become word champion. Before I met Brendan, I would have probably been locked up in jail. He was the only person that gave me hope. If it wasn’t for boxing, Eddie Hearn, DAZN, Brendan Ingle, my mum I’d probably be locked up or dead.” 

Like most boxers, Galahad (28-1, 17 KOs) hopes that winning the title will help him provide financial security for himself and those close to him, starting with his mother. “Hopefully I make a few quid out of this and get her a nice house,” he enthused. “I’m going to dominate the division. I always told Eddie I was going to dominate this division. I will make sure that I clean up this division. Nobody is going to beat me.” 

To that end, Galahad has just inked a multi-fight promotional deal with Hearn and Matchroom. The 31-year-old believes that the leverage of the IBF title plus Hearn’s backing will lead to even bigger things. “DAZN and Eddie have a new star on their hands,” said Galahad. 

“I told you all before this bout, ‘I AM FIGHT CAMP’, and I believe my performance on Saturday night showed that. Now I look forward to showcasing my skills back in the arenas in front of the crowds. 

“Boxing is at its best with the boxing fans in attendance — and featherweight boxing is at its best when Kid Galahad is in the ring, under them bright lights, shining and closing the show in style. From the ring walk to the ring craft — I’m the best in the division and I’m ready to put on a proper show with Matchroom and DAZN.” 

Former two-weight world titlist Carl Frampton may be retired but he isn’t just spending his time turning up at fights in an official capacity and attempting to wind up the McGuigan’s in the process, “The Jackal” has also poured his energy into local initiatives, including one run by the Mary Peters Trust.

Speaking to the Best of Belfast podcast, Frampton explained that he hopes to continue to be involved with projects that help and inspire others. “I want to give back and do some sort of community project, I still don’t know what,” he said (quotes taken from David O’Dornan’s report in the Belfast Telegraph). 

“Your charity helped me so much when I was a kid who just had a bit of potential really. And it helped me grow and succeed and I’d like to do something similar I suppose to what you’ve done and just give back to people, that’s all. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do in the future if I’m being honest. I’m just in the process of pulling it all together and what I don’t want to do is just rush into anything too soon.” 

The Mary Peters Trust has been helping young people for over four decades. It provides financial and other further help to young people and athletes to help them train and develop their talent. Frampton hopes that he can use his vast experience to help and inspire the next few generations.  

Frampton also admitted that he picked the right time to walk away from boxing, telling his fans not to hold out too much hope for a comeback down the line. “It’s been good to be at home and not have my life dictated by boxing and training and being away the time,” he added. 

“Boxing just takes over your life and you can’t go on holiday because you might have a fight coming up. And if you do go on holiday, you can’t eat properly or enjoy it properly because you’ve got a fight after it. It’s just good to be able to do whatever I want now.” 

Rob McCracken has guided Team GB to yet another successful haul of medals at this summer’s Olympic Games. As is now the norm he has been questioned about his commitment to the amateur game as well as his ongoing work with WBO, IBF, WBA Super World and IBO holder Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs), who meets Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) at Tottenham Hotspur’s Stadium next month. 

McCracken helped guide six boxers to medals — a big haul for such a comparatively small country — and our biggest for 101 years, yet he insists he can still successfully flit between the paid and unpaid ranks while managing to build his next Olympic squad for the 2024 Paris Games.  

“I’m here as long as GB wants me,” he declared when talking to David Charlesworth of the PA. “It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. It’s a privileged position, I have always said that. I’ll do what I can, and I’ll be there for GB. I’m happy to stay in my role until someone boots me out.” 

McCracken, though, admitted that since taking up the reins of Team GB in 2009 he has experienced some huge ups as well as some massive downs, which he says is par for the course when you are in such an important role.

“It’s bad for your health, Olympic boxing,” he admitted. “This is my third one, it’s like being on a rollercoaster before every contest and after it. But the boxers are tremendous. It’s been brilliant for the team to perform the way they have. This has been a long time coming, years and years of keeping this team together, the uncertainty over the last 15 months has been difficult with the preparation.”

However, he also admitted that his successful team is unlikely to stay together as the offers to turn professional will come flying in thick and fast.

“It’s hugely difficult as you’re watching your team go through the door, where the Russians, Cubans and Kazakhs, are staying,” said McCracken.

“You are always trying to start again. You do lose your team after every cycle.” 

In the meantime, McCracken will continue to work with Joshua ahead of the defence against Usyk, but the lingering disappointment of the failure to make a fight between Joshua and WBC holder Tyson Fury is still spreading a blanket of disappointment over the upcoming fight. 

Rob Madden, Joshua’s physiotherapist, is the latest person to admit that there was a lot of lingering disappointment when that one fell through, but he insists that the team are fully focussed on the challenge that will be presented by former cruiserweight champion Usyk.  

“I’m not going to lie, it was disappointing for everyone,” he told the Daily Mail. “I was disappointed, obviously AJ very much so. He was ready, he wanted it, we were planning for it. But this is boxing, it’s full of politics. Fury’s not on our minds right now; he can do what he’s doing, and we’ll be ready when he is.” 

Mike Tyson clearly had a blast recently when hosting his recent Hotboxin’ podcast, literally. The 55-year-old former undisputed heavyweight Champion had been enjoying his homegrown marijuana before interviewing the former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, which led to an interview (of sorts) that hit all the wrong spots if you wanted an in-depth examination of the UFC star yet hit the right spots if you tune into watch a clearly stoned Tyson conduct what can loosely be described as interviews.  

While not speaking from direct experience, I have heard that trying to interview someone after a few spliffs — or blunts, depending on the thickness and type of papers used — can be difficult for both parties, and given that Tyson allegedly gets through around $30,000 of the stuff a month you can only applaud him for the fact that he somehow managed to turn up. 

Co-host Henry Cejudo, a former two-weight UFC champion, managed to keep things flowing, but Tyson was keen to make some observations and interjections of his own. Nurmagomedov is a Muslim, so Tyson also did the decent thing by smoking his weed prior to the start of the interview only for it to creep up on him insidiously as things picked up.  

Still, Tyson did enjoy a segment in which they looked at the famous clip of Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear as a youngster. Most people are in awe of the footage, but Tyson, who has owned a number of exotic animals in the past, believes that the bear carried his opponent out of sheer love and affection. 

“The bear is kicking his ass!” he exclaimed at one point. “This is pretty interesting. The bear loves you. If the bear didn’t love you, he would kill you in three seconds…Three seconds, and you’re dead.” 

Tyson was less interested in talking about his own career, admitting he had forgotten large parts of it when asked about specific fights before the “Interview” wound itself down and Tyson returned to whatever it was he was doing prior to the beginning of it.  

@Terryboxing 

Main image: Mikey Williams