Jamie Conlan was a warrior boxer, known for his grit, guts and more than his share of Fight of the Year contenders.

Now on the safe side of the ropes and away from harm’s way, he was asked how he feels ahead of his brother’s world title fight this weekend.

“I’m a nervous wreck. I’m sh!tting myself…because he’s your younger brother,” he said, of Michael’s WBA featherweight title shot against Nottingham champion Leigh Wood.

“If you’re an older brother, it doesn’t matter if he’s fighting someone who’s 1-6 or world champion, the anxiety and the nerves of your younger brother fighting… When you’ve been brought up to defend your younger brother and to help him in any way… We were brought up that if one of us fights, all of us fight. There were five boys in our house, so I always want to help in some way but it’s out of my control. I can’t control anything and that’s probably the biggest thing for me. Being a former fighter, being able to understand what’s going on in the ring and not being able to do anything about it plays on your nerves but you’re just an older brother at that moment in time.”

Jamie was 19-1 (11) as a pro, retiring in 2017 and then being at the beck and call of Michael for his assault on the pro ranks. Michael Conlan is 16-0 and Jamie has proudly watched his progress, tackling big nights in the ring and making big decisions outside of it.

“I’ve not met anyone who is as mentally driven and mentally bulletproof as him,” Jamie continued. “Physically he’s got fantastic attributes and tactically he’s able to do things that I have not seen other fighters do. But it’s his mental aspect and maturity for what he’s about to go through, taking himself off to America at a young age with a fiancé and a young baby, to learn the hard way there… Losing the close-knit relationship with the family that he had with myself and my father who he’d fall back on in every situation to be able to do it the tough way, in the hard gyms in LA with Oscar Valdez, Jessie Magdeleno and other world class sparring right out of the gate… making the big decision to come over here [to train in England], and I still say my proudest moment in boxing was when he won the Olympic bronze medal in 2012, coming back in the fashion that he did against Nordine Oubaali.” 

The Conlans will be outnumbered this weekend but they both think the travelling Irish will be easily heard above Wood’s Nottingham faithful on Saturday. Still, the occasion amplifies Jamie’s big brother complex for his sibling.

“In one sense yes, in one sense because it’s in the opponent’s backyard it’s even more magnified as there will be thousands of people baying for your brother’s blood in the crowd, being hostile, screaming obscenities and wanting your brother to get hurt, so it’s magnified, definitely,” Jamie added. Then, asked whether Michael will miss having his usual backing of large crowds in New York or Belfast, Jamie countered that by discussing the expectation that those fights have routinely brought. 

“There’s a flipside to that coin with the pressure situation and there’s a pressure he’s under on a continuous basis throughout his career because of it but in this scenario you’re in the opponent’s backyard and you’re not used to everyone looking at you to lose, but he handles that very well,” explained Jamie. “People don’t understand the magnifying glass he’s been under since day dot. He carried the weight of a nation after 2012 to be the first male Olympic champion since Michael Carruth and had all the expectations on him going in to Rio and then that’s carried on after Rio, the big signing with Top Rank… and turning pro they rolled out the red carpet for him in Belfast with a big press conference and he was in Madison Square Garden. People see the big plus side to that, but there is a big drawback that people don’t understand what pressure that brings to the fighter. They’re not given the opportunity to learn, they’re not really given the opportunity to grow. You’ve been an amateur so long you’re now in a new game. Yes, the goal is the same by punching someone in the face more than he hits you, and knocking someone out, but they’re two different sports completely and you have to adapt your style to suit. There’s always been pressure with Michael. Because Michael was a headline act [from the start], and in a six-round fight, you had the hardcore fans probably not liking that situation, not happy with him being where he was on the card as a novice pro. He had to go under a lot of scrutiny, a lot of negativity and deal with it in different ways.”

Michael also adapted the come-forward teachings of Manny Robles to the more patient set up of Adam Booth as he switched his training bases.

“It’s all down to this moment in time, but there have been some tough times,” concluded his older brother, who predicts a career best performance against Wood. “I think it will be a masterclass. I truly believe it. It comes from preparation. Preparation has been fantastic. The way that they set about the tasks at hand and how they’ve handled the situation. Adam is not one to throw out praise lightly, but there have been days when for this camp – I’ve been over a lot – and Adam has been singing praises and he doesn’t do that often, which leads us to this point of being super confident and I think they’re underestimating Michael in a lot of departments.”