Michael Conlan: I dont think Billy Walsh's loss is USA's gain

The Belfast boxer has defended Zaur Antia after his opening Olympic bout

Michael Conlan: I dont think Billy Walsh's loss is USA's gain

Michael Conlan in his corner with John Conlan and Ireland coach Zaur Antia after winning his fight. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Michael Conlan has used his opening win at the Olympic Games to come the the defence of Ireland coach Zaur Antia.

The Georgian took charge of Ireland's high performance last year after Billy Walsh moved to join USA Boxing. Antia has been receiving criticism from many commentators in that past week, due to Ireland's disappointing campaign in the ring.

"Every single media person here keeps going on about Billy Walsh", Conlan told the assembled Irish media after his win over Armenia's Aram Avagyan "It is getting annoying for boxers, because Zaur Antia has always been the main man and always will be the main man."

"I'm looking forward to Zaur bringing me to the Olympic gold medal and my father [John] being in my corner. He's always been the main man and always will be the main man."

Billy Walsh, Michael Conlan and Zaur Antia at London 2012. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Walsh has helped America win their first men's boxing medal at an Olympic Games since 2008, and has been widely praised for his influence with their team. Despite the praise, Conlan does not think it's fully justified.

"I dont think Billy's loss is USA's gain. The scoring system and the professional boxing style is suiting the USA boxers a lot more. They're trained by their pro coaches back home. I don't think we've lost much."

"It is what it is. We're here for gold and the fact the Billy's not in the corner doesn't count for anything."

Despite the unanimous win over the Armenian, Conlan admitted that the win was "one of my worst performances in recent times."

He now meets Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals. Nikitin has previously beaten Conlan, and he's looking for revenge.

"When I moved up to 56 [kg], he beat me. I watched it the first day we got here... I'm delighted I'm fighting him."