Jamie Conlan aim to stay on track for world title with Paddy Barnes also on Belfast bill
Jamie Conlan says he could be fighting a world title eliminator as early as May if he earns a 19th straight professional win in Belfast on Friday.
Conlan, 30, takes on Nicaraguan and former world title challenger Yader Cardoza on a Waterfront Hall bill which also features Paddy Barnes.
"Hopefully the world title eliminator will happen before the end of May," Conlan told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.
But super-flyweight Conlan knows he must first see off Cardoza, 28.
The Nicaraguan was beaten in a WBC world light-flyweight challenge against Mexico's Adrian Hernandez on a unanimous points decision in May 2013.
Cardoza has lost five of his subsequent 13 contests to bring up his career record to 22 wins, 10 defeats and a draw.
Conlan won't underestimate Cardoza
But while Conlan will be expected to avoid any slip-ups on Friday night, he will not be underestimating the Managua-based fighter, in a contest delayed from 18 February after the Belfastman came down with a heavy cold.
"He throws lots of punches, is dangerous with the head and is aggressive and non-stop but that should leave me with opportunities to counter-punch. I think it's going to make for an exciting fight," added the 30-year-old.
Conlan's build-up to Friday's contest included a fortnight in Los Angeles where he trained alongside his brother Michael who is preparing for his professional debut in New York next week.
Barnes also joined the Conlan brothers at the training camp in California where they rubbed shoulders with the likes of WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez.
"We had world-class sparring every other day," said Conlan, who will be fighting for the WBC International Silver Super-Flyweight belt in Friday's bout.
Conlan admits that it will be "strange" to take to the ring at the Waterfront Hall and not hear his brother barking out advice during the contest.
Michael remains in the US ahead of his St Patrick's Day bout at Madison Square Garden and the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist is in daily contact with Jamie to pick up pieces of advice about the pro game and give his own tactical take on Friday's Belfast contest.
Barnes vows to earn knockout after debut farce
Twice Olympic bronze medallist Barnes is hoping for a much more satisfactory evening against Argentina's Adrian Dimas Garzon than his debut win over Bulgarian Stefan Slavchev in November.
Slavchez was disqualified in the fourth round of the bout after lifting Barnes off his feet, following a frustrating professional opener for the Belfastman.
"I learned absolutely nothing from that fight and I don't ever think about it," said Barnes.
"He was a journeyman who came to survive and I was over-eager. Trying to impress the crowd and chasing him too much.
"This time I'm going to take my time and I know I will get the knockout."
Garzon is reckoned to be a higher class of journeyman, having been knocked out in four rounds by Jamie Conlan in November 2015 and also restricting British prospect Kevin Satchell to an eight-round points win last March.