BIG FIGHT PREVIEW: Conway ready to see off Cissokho and step into the big time!
Northampton boxer Kieron Conway is gearing up for the biggest fight of his career in the USA this Saturday night... but insists he has got ‘nothing to lose’, and everything to gain.
The eyes of the boxing world will be on Conway when he defends his WBA Intercontinental super welterweight title against unbeaten Frenchman Souleymane Cissokho at the AT&T Arena in Arlington, Texas.
The bout is on the card of the massive world super-middleweight unification contest between Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez and Billy Jo Saunders, and Conway knows it is a massive opportunity for him to make a name for himself, and make the boxing world sit up and take notice of him.
But he also insists all the pressure will be on his opponent, who has been tipped for great things since he won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Cissokho is managed by Britain’s world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, is currently being trained by the renowned Virgil Hunter, and boasts a 100 per cent record of 12 wins out of 12, recording seven knockouts.
But that all means nothing to Conway, who says he is ‘calm, collected and very confident’ he will be celebrating a win in the early hours of Sunday morning UK time.
“I am not overlooking Cissokho at all,” said Conway, who turned 25 on Sunday.
“He is a good fighter, and he is probably going to be the hardest fight I have had, but I am still confident.
“It makes no difference to me who he trains with, where he trains, or whatever they believe, it is all in their heads.
“I know how it is going to go down in my head as well.”
This weekend’s fight will be Conway’s 19th as a professional, and he is confident he will be celebrating win number 17, having also drawn one and lost one of his previous 18.
Conway’s career has been on a steady upward curve for the past two or three years and he is highly-rated in the UK, but this event is a huge step up to what Conway has been used to, and it is also his first fight on foreign soil.
With a crowd of 70,000 in attendance for what is the only show in town across the boxing world this weekend, he knows it is a great chance for him to enhance his career, with all the action being streamed across the world on DAZN.
And Conway is relishing the challenge.
“It is my first fight outside of the UK, and with it being on that sort of card as well it is absolutely huge,” admitted the fighter, who trains out of his dad James’s Team Shoe-Box gym on Harlestone Road in Northampton.
“A win there is big, and I am fully confident that I am going there to do just that.
“There are no doubts in my mind at all, I am confident in myself and the pressure is not on me, it is all on him.
“Yes, I have the title, but I came in with nothing. I started boxing with nothing, being paid nothing, and the reality is I have nothing to lose.
“He (Cissokho) has got this big reputation having been in the Olympics, and being with Anthony Joshua and things like that.
“So I am calm, collected, and very confident.”
Cissokho is almost five years older that Conway, and has been a boxer that a lot has been expected of since he turned pro in 2017.
But he is also a boxer out of practice.
While Conway has managed to compete in four fights in the past 18 months, Cissokho has fought once since September, 2019, and that was in March when he saw off a clearly overweight and outclassed Daniel Echeverria in six rounds.
It was a serious mis-match, and Conway believes the Frenchman’s impressive record on paper is also misleading as he hasn’t been taking on top class opponents.
“He trains in California with Virgil Hunter, who trained Andre Ward and people like that, but that doesn’t mean anything,” said Conway. “I am not fazed by that at all.
“The average age of his opponents is something like 35 or 36. Most of us want to be retired by that age, and most of them probably are.
“They have probably got a call while sitting on their sofa, and they have then rushed through their medical to get a little pay day.
“His last opponent was 12lbs overweight, and he literally didn’t even try.”
Conway believes Cissokho will have never taken on a fighter of his quality.
The pair were supposed to fight at Wembley last December before Cissokho pulled out, for 'administrative reasons'.
That meant Conway fought and beat Macaulay McGowan, and he says he then kept himself in shape after that.
“I stayed in shape because I was anticipating something happening about this time of the year,” said Conway, who was originally pencilled in to take on American Jessie Vargas this weekend, but he too pulled out with little reason.
That opened the door for the Cissokho clash, and Conway is more than ready to grab what is a fantastic opportunity with both hands.
“A win here pushes me on big time, and I am really looking forward to that,” said Conway.
“I am looking forward to getting the win and seeing what happens afterwards, because it can only be big.
“I am looking forward to the next day, speaking to my manager and Matchroom, and it is going to be good.”
He will also get the chance to belatedly celebrate that 25th birthday...
“Yeah, I will have to celebrate afterwards,” he said.
“Perhaps I will be able to wake up on the Sunday morning and have some donuts!”
The fight night is being streamed live on www.dazn.com - with coverage starting from 1am on Sunday, UK time