Michael Conlan ready to turn chapter on LA story

Michael Conlan will make a full-time move to the US in the new year after a reconnaissance trip Stateside next month.
Michael Conlan ready to turn chapter on LA story

The world amateur champion will head to America on November 10 with manager Matthew Macklin to sort out his training arrangements and living plans before his pro debut next year.

Conlan will make a permanent move to Los Angeles in January alongside partner Shauna and daughter Luisne ahead of his St Patrick’s Day pro bow at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theatre.

The 24-year-old plans on getting to work with new coach Manny Robles in LA where he will train alongside former amateur team-mate Jason Quigley. But the decorated amateur knows there will be target on his back in the gym after signing a big-bucks pro deal with US promotional outfit Top Rank.

“Jason was saying that. With a big name coming into the gym, people might want to take my head off [in sparring],” said Conlan at a press conference at the Titanic Centre in Belfast yesterday. “They might not like me, but hopefully they grow to like me.

“Either way, I’ll make sure they respect me and I’ll put a bit of manners on anyone who steps in the ring and tries to take my head off.” Conlan’s big-money deal to turn pro with US outfit Top Rank also assures him at least one home bout per year – and the Belfast native is already eyeing up Casement Park, which is set for a massive redevelopment, as well as fight in the capital.

“I’ll have one fight a year in Ireland so whether it’s in Belfast or Dublin, I don’t know,” said Conlan.

“I’ve always said that Casement Park would be a brilliant place to fight because it’s in west Belfast and it’s my home stadium.

“I always thought it would be a good place to fight, but there wasn’t enough seats. Now there will be a lot of seats! It looks like it’ll be a great new stadium and a great place to fight because it’s just 10 minutes away from my mum’s house.

“But I would love to fight in Dublin also, it’s been my home for the last seven years with the Irish team. I love this city and that’s where my dad’s from.” Whatever the future holds, the recent past seems a distant memory for the 24-year-old, who is not dwelling on his contentious Olympic loss to Russian Vladimir Nikitin last August.

The amateur world champion said: “Rio’s in the past, that’s all happened and I can’t change it, so now I’m looking forward to the future and planning ahead.

“Right now, I’m thinking about what I’m going to be wearing in the fight and what my ring-entrance music will be!

“I’m not sure, but it’s more than likely going to be a U2 song.

“They’re talking about getting the Dropkick Murphys guys in to play before my fight so that would be deadly.

“I might do a Prince Naseem and come in on the magic carpet or I was saying I could come out like Apollo Creed to ‘Living in America’ but wearing my Irish colours and a top hat,” he joked.

Manager Matthew Macklin admitted that they will not throw the London 2012 Olympic medallist in with a top-level opponent on his first paid outing.

The former world-title contender said: “It’ll be an opponent he should definitely beat, there’s no point in saying anything else, but I think it will be someone with a winning record .” Meanwhile, Top Rank president Todd duBoef cited the success of Conor McGregor Stateside as he backed Conlan to be a hit in the US as well as his homeland.

DuBoef said: “When you see the Irish culture that exists on the east coast and all over the US, we really believe that he could be that person to represent something.

“He can speak to the public and get a following that would be greater than anything we’ve seen in a long time. He has the personality to do it.”

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