Tony Bellew issues warning to Mick Conlan ahead of homecoming
Mick Conlan may want to listen to Tony Bellew's advice.
Tony Bellew has been there and done that. He's been the hometown hero. He's felt the pressure of thousands of fans all cheering him on in anticipation of a victory. More importantly, he knows how to deal with all that. He knows how to come through the other side with referee raising his hand to the sky.
In 2016, Bellew took on Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC cruiserweight title in Goodison Park. Makuba had been unbeaten for eight years. The only time he tasted defeat prior to that night was in his professional debut. Bellew only received the title shot because champion Grigory Drozd was stripped for pulling out of his scheduled fight against Makuba due to injury.
It was all set up for Bellew to be the hero. Then it looked like he was doomed to fail. In the opening round, he took a seat on the canvas.
Bellew was going to go out. Not like that. Not in front of all those adoring fans.
He picked himself up, dusted himself up and started swinging.
The finish came in round three. A thunderous flurry incapacitated his adversary against the ropes. He was out on his feet before he eventually just keeled over.
The crowd erupted.
TONY BELLEW KNOCKS OUT MAKABU AND IS THE NEW WBC CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/0E9eIDRlCr
— Strictly Boxing Fans (@boxingbritain2) May 29, 2016
Keep the head
For the first time in eight years, Mick Conlan will fight in Belfast tonight. His opponent is 19-4 Brazillian boxer Adeilson Dos Santos. As you can probably tell by the lack of name recognition, Conlan is a far superior pugilist.
However, as Bellew warns in his Metro Column, it's the occasion that Conlan will have to overcome, rather than the opponent. Bellew advises the Irishman to detach himself emotionally from the event and just go out there and box.
"It’s eight years since Conlan fought in Belfast, his hometown. The best way to deal with that, in my experience, is not get too involved in the moment."
"Treat it like anything else. Don’t believe the hype and detach himself emotionally from the fight."
"He might tire, things might not go the way he wants them to. He needs to switch off emotionally and think this fight is just another fight in the middle of nowhere. If he does that, we’ll see the best of him. I’ve been there and made that mistake."
Simple, but sound advice. If Conlan does that, he should have no problem performing inside the ring.