Michael Conlan v Jordan Gill (SSE Arena, Saturday, live on DAZN)
IT’S back to the future for Michael Conlan at the SSE Arena on Saturday night when he tops the bill of a blockbuster card in a super-featherweight meeting with Jordan Gill (27-2-1).

Conlan lost in a second bid for world honours at the same venue back in May when stopped by Luis Alberto Lopez.

That left him at a crossroads, considering whether to continue or hang them up. He opted for the former, but also a change in team with Cuba’s Dr Pedro Diaz replacing Adam Booth as head coach.

The link-up with Diaz that has breathed new life into his career and the Cuban’s track record speaks for itself, having guided his countrymen to a plethora of amateur gold medals before going onto the professional code where he has worked at the highest level with the likes of Miguel Cotto.

Having turned 32 last week, the West Belfast man was not going to radically change as a fighter and that has been the case with Diaz helping him rediscover his old self with a back to basics approach that has relit the fire in the Belfast man.

“He has be back using my best assets: using my legs, my speed, distance and boxing ability, rather than sitting in the pocket trying to throw stupid shots. I’m back using my brain rather than my balls and I’m really happy,” said Conlan.

“He has belief in me that I can go and win all four belts, not just one.

“It’s refreshing in that as a coach, he probably wants to win more than the actual fighter as he gives it everything.

“I’m back to using things purposefully for my style: back throwing combinations that suit, back to using my jab and not just leaving it out to time it with one shot. I’m not that type of fighter and that was a mistake I was making, but this time I’m back to being the old me.

“I’m very confident going into this one with what we’ve been working on, back to using what I need to and doing what I’m best at, not trying to be someone new, but just being me.

“I’m not grinding myself as much as I usually do as he stops me from doing the mad runs I’d have done, telling me I’m not a runner but a boxer, so work on 12 hard rounds. It’s much more efficient as a rest is just as important to him as the training plan.”

Making the decision to continue his career wasn’t easy with the disappointment of May still fresh.

He made the trip to the United States to trial new coaches and whilst it was enjoyable, it was only when he teamed up with Diaz when he felt the spark.

It has been quite evident by the tone in his voice that Conlan is looking forward and not back, his desire to get to the top as strong as ever.

“The hardest thing is doubting yourself,” he admitted.

“When I started with Pedro, the fire started to come back and I felt that I can still do it and when he started to explain things, I realised I wanted it.

“I have that belief again, that confidence and feel I’m back to being me so I can do what I do best and box the head off people.”

Conlan has also made a promotional change having left Top Rank and is now being guided by Matchroom.

Eddie Hearn’s outfit contains some of the names that Conlan has ambitions of mixing it with including Leigh Wood whom he lost to in his first crack at work honours.

Wood has opted to move up to super-featherweight and that its the division Conlan will fight in this weekend against a close friend of the Nottingham man - a nice sub-plot ahead of battle.

“Leigh will definitely be there,” Conlan revealed.

“It’s a nice backstory (with Gill) as we’ve sparred each other. I know Jordan and how tricky he can be. I understand the task I have ahead of him, but I don’t go off sparring.

“I can take confidence from it, so I’m excited and know it will be a good night.”

Gill is a former European champion, only losing his title to two-weight world champion Kiko Martinez having won the belt in thrilling style against Karim Guerfi.

The Englishman seemed on the brink of being stopped by Guerfi, dropped in the seventh and on shaky legs for the next round until out of nowhere, he pulled out a home-run that flattened the defending champion.

That highlights how dangerous he can be so don’t expect a gung-ho approach from Conlan on Saturday, rather one of patient boxing from a man with a plan of where he wants to go and what he needs to do to get there.

“Some of the times you don’t land them, but he did and you have to give him the respect for that,” he said of Gill’s 2022 Knockout of the Year shot against Guerfi.

“He’s like a cat when he’s backed into a corner, swinging out. I understand that but if you know how to negate those things, it’s no problem.

“I’m not worried about Jordan Gill or what he does. Whatever he brings won’t matter as all that matters is what I bring.

“I’m going into this fight full of confidence and ready to put on a show with a new team.

“I’m ready to prove something and show I’m still here in the mix so I can get that rematch with Wood, but it’ll means nothing until I get there.”