Michael Conlan on mission to make Irish boxing great again

As Stella tightens her icy grip on the Big Apple, Michael Conlan continues to take the city by storm.

Michael Conlan on mission to make Irish boxing great again

His own landmark event beckons. On Friday night, the 25-year-old amateur boxing icon will become the first Irish fighter ever to headline a Madison Square Garden card on his professional debut — a far cry from the debacle that was Rio, further still from Belfast’s Falls Road.

But all roads lead home eventually.

“It’ll be really interesting to have my first big show in Ireland,” he says, allowing himself to look beyond St Patrick’s night on Seventh Avenue for a couple of seconds.

“We’re looking at the first weekend of December, or else the end of November— it’s definitely happening. It’s literally in my contract. It’s going to be a big show, and in a good arena also.”

First up it’s the world’s most famous arena, and for those not part of the 3,500-strong Conlan army traversing the Atlantic this week, the two-time Olympian’s maiden pro bout will — eventually — make its way to terrestrial television.

RTÉ will make their return to boxing’s paid ranks after over five years away from the sport with delayed highlights of his debut.

Were it not for the boxer himself, Irish pugilism enthusiasts might still be waiting.

“What I was hinting at the last time, you know... It happened,” says Conlan.

“I told Top Rank that I wanted this fight on television in Ireland, on RTÉ, and that was that. I don’t think it cost [RTÉ] much either. I actually don’t think it cost anything.”

He continued: “It’s great to have the likes of RTÉ on board because I want to bring big-time boxing back to Ireland, but more importantly, I want to bring it back to terrestrial TV in Ireland.

“The main channel in Ireland is RTÉ, so it makes sense. It was us that said we wanted it. Well, it was me.”

Before boxing’s boom times return to our screens back home, however, Conlan has a boom time of his own planned for Denver’s Tim Ibarra. And he wants Irish fans to leave the Big Apple happy.

“Ireland is coming to New York City on Friday night and I am eternally grateful for all of the Irish fans who support me.

“I want my first fight to be very exciting, to make the trip worthwhile for all of our Irish fans. I love them all. The nation’s pride rests on my shoulders.”

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