BY CHRIS MCNULTY
OLYMPIC bronze medalists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan have backed Jason Quigley to hit the top of the professional ranks.
The 23-year-old middleweight touched down in Los Angeles at the weekend as the countdown to his pro debut continues.
Quigley will debut in a four-round middleweight bout at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on July 12, as part of the undercard for the eagerly-anticipated junior middleweight contest between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara.
Quigley had been part of the High Performance Unit with the IABA and former team-mates Conlan and Barnes believe the Ballybofey man has what it takes.
Last winter after the AIBA World Championships Conlan and Quigley spent a week on holiday in Magaluf. Conlan and Barnes both won silver at last year’s European championships, with Quigley taking gold after defeating Bogdan Juratoni.
Quigley rocketed then to a world final in October, losing to Zhanibek Alimkhanuly.
“He’s been under the radar in the last few months, but this is great for him and I’m so happy for him,” Conlan told the Donegal News.
“He has everything. He is totally adaptable to anything. If it’s pro style or amateur style he can do it. He can make himself suit it and there’s no reason he won’t be a success.”
Both Belfast boxers have been the subject of professional talk, but have so far remained as amateurs and spent last week in Buncrana training with the Northern Ireland team ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
Barnes – a bronze medlists at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and again at London 2012 – also believes Quigley has what it takes.
He said: “I think he’ll do well. I hope he does well. He’s a brilliant boxer. I don’t see why he won’t make a go of it. He’s definitely got it in him…he’s superb.”
The diminutive duo are aiming to reach the medals in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games, which get underway in late July.
Barnes, a gold medal winner at Delhi four years ago, said: “It was good in the camp. I can’t wait for it. I’ll be in top shape in another four weeks.
“I’m going to Glasgow to defend my title. I’ve had a good year.”
Conlan was beaten in the opening round in 2010, but is feeling in good shape this time out.
He said: “I was only a kid the last time, only seventeen. It was all a learning curve and that’s a big reason of where I am now. It really helped me.
“We’ve been in Buncrana all week. It’s been good to get away from the city and into a bit of training here. I’m looking forward to the games now.”