Jamie Conlan reflects on rocky road to world title shot

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Jamie Conlan says the hard times of making ends meet, when it got so tough he almost quit boxing, have prepared him well for Saturday's world title shot.

The 31-year-old challenges Filipino Jerwin Ancajas for his IBF world junior-bantamweight title at the SSE Arena in his home city of Belfast after combining his boxing career with jobs as a qualified aircraft engineer, a hospital porter and a building site labourer.

Conlan (19-0, 11 KOs) has been able to focus entirely on his first attempt at global glory -- but it was not always the case.

Conlan told ESPN: "There have been more downs than ups, there was more than once -- a good handful of times -- when I would ring my da' and say I'm done, I can't take it anymore.

"My career has been difficult coming through with no promotional backing, no real managerial force behind me and being a super flyweight you are generally forgotten about.

"I sold a lot of tickets but the big shows didn't happen all the time and I was just getting used and left in limbo.

"I would have a great win and then I would stall for six months because there was no boxing in Northern Ireland. I was fighting in places like Kent and Liverpool and there were some tough times indeed.

"But I'm a driven athlete and as a man I never rely on what I've got, I keep striving. You have to be more mentally driven than physically sometimes in this sport.

"I worked in a maternity ward [at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast] and as a labourer on a building site. I was qualified aircraft engineer at Bombardier Aerospace which is what I did early on in my boxing career.

"I was ranked No 5 in the world at the time of working at the hospital part time -- I used to have to go to the gym before the shifts.

"I worked as a paver, laying down bricks for my brother Brendan on building sites too. Before Carl Frampton fought Kiko Martinez for the world title in the Titanic Quarter [on Sep. 6 2014], I laid the bricks and did the paving, laid the flags and stones there the Christmas before.

"It's fantastic to have come from where I've come from and have this chance, because at times I thought it was over."

Should Conlan upset the odds and relieve Ancajas (27-1-1, 18 KOs) of the title, unification bouts with the likes of WBA champion Kal Yafai, WBC king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai -- who recently ousted Roman Gonzalez -- and WBO holder Naoya Inoue are in the offing.