THIS SPORTING LIFE: Liam Conroy finds a knockout formula

14 September 2017 3:54PM

THE most striking feature of Liam Conroy’s English title victory was the manner in which he achieved it.

Beating the reigning champion in front of a partisan York Hall crowd to claim the national crown is a fantastic achievement. To do it courtesy of a second round stoppage was nothing short of sensational.

The fight would have been over even quicker had Joel McIntyre not been saved by the bell after being given two standing counts in the first round.

Conroy now sits proudly in fifth place in the UK light-heavyweight rankings. If all goes to plan he’ll get a crack at the British title, and now he has added devastating finishing power to a solid all-round game, he will be quietly confident of more successes.

The stats from his past handful of fights make impressive reading.

Conroy’s victory in London was his fourth inside-the-distance in his last five contests, during a purple patch which has seen him pick up the WBC Silver Youth, Northern Area and English titles.

Compare that to the former Barrow ABC junior’s first 13 pro bouts, where he managed two stoppage wins, while competing mostly at middleweight and super-middleweight.

Moving up to light-heavyweight has proved a wise decision, but what has transformed Conroy into a knockout machine?

The 25-year-old puts it down to a few key factors.

He credits his dedicated work with trainer Johnney Roye, focusing not only on physical endurance and technical skills, but also the mental side of boxing.

When Conroy stepped into the ring on Saturday he looked relaxed and focused – a complete contrast from the tense and nervous youngster floored in quick time by Cello Renda at Prizefighter two-and-a-half years ago.

Another big factor is Conroy’s regular sessions with Matty Green at Dalton-based Cumbria Strength and Conditioning.

As a result, he now possesses technical skills, experience, mental strength and lethal power.

“I stopped a lot in the amateurs so I’ve always kind of known I was capable of it,” says Conroy.

“I think I really used to look for a stoppage and that used to affect my boxing, but now my mentality is totally different.

“I’m more relaxed and I don’t think about knocking anyone out, I just focus on the tools that me and Johnney have discussed that are going to work.

“If a stoppage comes, it comes. I’m not thinking about it too much and loading up. I’m just managing to catch people more cleanly and it seems to be working.

“I have been working with Matty Green at Cumbria Strength and Conditioning for 18 months and I’ve been feeling really strong in the gym, so I guess you could say that is being converted into the ring.

“It’s a combination of my mentality changing, taking my time a bit more and landing clean, and the training that I’m doing, because I’m training really hard all the time.”

Conroy admits he nearly quit boxing following his first-round defeat to Renda in front of live Sky TV cameras at Prizefighter. It was a real low point and hit his confidence hard.

But after being persuaded to think again and stick at it, Conroy has resurrected his career and began to live up to his nickname ‘The Terminator’.

By a strange quirk of fate Conroy saw Renda on Saturday for the first time since Prizefighter. Both were using the away changing rooms at York Hall and both landed titles with stoppage victories. The pair had a good craic afterwards and had their picture taken together with their winning belts.

It was a fitting way to put to bed the darkest hour of Conroy’s career, and show he has moved on to bigger and better things.

After taking the pro ticket as a teenager, Conroy is now reaping the rewards of all his hard graft – and long may that continue.

Fully-firing Anderson could be key to England's Ashes hopes

NO ball. Four. No ball. Four. No run. Four. No run. Three.

AFTER witnessing his nervous first over in Test match cricket, many of the Lord's crowd that July day in 2003 probably wondered whether they'd ever hear much of Jimmy Anderson again.

Fast-forward 14 years and the Lancashire paceman is widely regarded as the finest seam bowler this country has ever produced.

To be fair to Anderson, he did recover quickly after seeing his first over go for 17 runs on his debut against Zimbabwe. Anderson followed it up with a maiden, then a wicket-maiden, and in a more accurate sign of things to come, the 22-year-old ended the innings with figures of 5 for 73.

His first Test match wicket saw him bowl Mark Vermuelen, and fittingly his 500th Test victim came in the same fashion at the same venue as West Indian Kraigg Brathwaite heard the death rattle.

The Burnley Express ended with Test-best figures of 7 for 42 in last week's decider to lead England to victory, and he currently stands on 506 wickets.

Only three spinners, Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708) and Anil Kumble (619) and two pacemen, Glenn McGrath (563) and Courtney Walsh (519), have taken more Test wickets, and if Anderson stays fit then Walsh and McGrath are both in his sights.

Now 35, Anderson surely can't go on delivering the goods at the highest level for much longer. It's one Test series at a time for him now, and that starts with the little matter of the Ashes.

It could be a difficult series Down Under for an England batting line-up which has shown to be susceptible to the odd collapse during the summer wins over South Africa and West Indies. The Aussie quickies will look expose any weaknesses as they try desperately to wrestle back the biggest prize in cricket.

England have the ability and experience to do the job, especially if Joe Root can balance the pressures of captaining an Ashes-touring team in Australia, role while also scoring plenty of runs. And what will help Root and England's cause immensely is having a fully-fit Anderson firing on all cylinders for the whole series.

Raiders need your roar

CALLING all Raiders fans. Now is the time to get down to Craven Park.

Barrow are heading for an exciting climax to the League One campaign, with the target being three home wins which will see them promoted to the Championship.

If you want to see Raiders playing in a higher division in 2018 you can play your part by roaring them to victory, firstly against Keighley this Sunday, and then in the play-off semis and final.

Paul Crarey's men have been playing exciting rugby all season, and with the League One Cup already in the bag, grabbing the second promotion spot behind Toronto would be the icing on the cake of a memorable year.

Three home wins will achieve that goal. What will help Barrow's cause greatly is fans coming through the turnstiles in numbers to see them home – and give the club's coffers a much-needed boost in the process.

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