MAINTAINING a cool head in a hot kitchen is what Michael Conlan believes will be his key to victory on Saturday night when he challenges Luis Alberto Lopez for the IBF featherweight title at the SSE Arena (live on BT Sport, approximately 9pm).

Conlan lost out in his bid to win the WBA version against Leigh Wood in Nottingham last in in what was a frenzied atmosphere with the crowd split down the middle.

This time, it will be virtually a fully pro-Conlan crowd in his hometown but he is aware that he can get carried away or play to the gallery.

Since the fight announcement, the Falls Road man has been happy to concede the favourite tag to the champion and on Wednesday at the open workout, admitted he would rather have been elsewhere as his only focus is now on fight night and his bid for world honours as a pro to add to his amateur gold in 2015.

"It will be unbelievable (to win at home) but the one thing I will make sure of this time is keeping my emotions in check - a cool head in a hot kitchen," he stressed.

"The ring walk, I got caught up in it for the Leigh Wood fight and was shouting at the crowd to get fired up, but that won't be the case this time. This time, it's about going out to just get the job done.

"I've been much smarter in terms of my approach. I haven't went all-out (verbal) attack for a reason. I've been much more relaxed and much more calm, just going with the flow and letting it all happen."

Conlan's pro career has included a victory over Ionut Baluta who, despite not being on the same level as Lopez, also possesses an unpredictable and unorthodox style.

The experience of getting through that 2021 battle may pay off this weekend as Conlan is again faced with an opponent who likes to throw from a range of angles and applies pressure.

"All those little boxes along the way you've gotta tick," he reflected. 

"The Baluta fight was a good one for this as he was showing so many punches and was being aggressive with his counters.

"I was but I wasn't prepared for that at the time. I tried to blow him out but that's not the game-plan here."

The noises are that Conlan will stick to his boxing skills, keep the fight long and try to frustrate Lopez into making mistakes.

The champion has been bullish in his prediction that he will close the show and demolish Conlan's dreams, but the Belfast man believes that confidence stems from his loss to Wood when exhaustion saw him unravel in the final round before being knocked out.

Many feel that Lopez is the puncher, but Conlan has enough behind his punches as evidenced by recent performances and he is not ruling out the early night in his favour.

"The've looked at the Leigh Wood fight and are thinking 'ah, I'll stop him' and if he really believes that then fair play to him, he can believe whatever he wants," the Belfast man countered.

"I will win this fight by any means necessary and I believe I'll box the ears off him, but I believe I can knock him out as well. 

"I've shown in my last lot of fights that I carry power - the last four opponents have all hit the canvas and I don't think this will be any different."