Michael Conlan revealed he turned down good money to take the easy route so he could become a global super star.
The Belfast fighter, who fights Spaniard Ibon Larrinaga on the Jorge Linares v Vasyl Lomachenko card tonight, was in demand when he elected to ditch the vest and pursue a pro career.
An Olympic robbery and the subsequent human out burst meant his profile was high and his talent was proved by a World Championship win in the same year.
Promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren put there money on the table and sold him a Belfast dream, but the ambitious puncher wanted more.
Not that he turned his back on his home town or his country-Conlan made sure he had a one fight in Ireland once a year stipulation in his contract- rather he wanted global success and felt Top Rank were the best promoters to help him achieve that.
It meant leaving home and the comforts that surround that, but the Olympic bronze medalist, who is now training in London, felt the star making ability of Bob Arum and his team would make ‘the crazy’ move worth it.
“It was crazy to launch my career in the U.S.,” Conlan told ESPN. “I could have taken an easier route and signed for Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn who were offering good money, fight a load of bums and get everyone interested in Belfast and sell out arenas quick.
“But I went somewhere where no one knew me… well, they knew me from something which they shouldn’t have known me for. I went there and you’ve seen the atmospheres that my fights have generated.
“I do believe I chose the harder route but I looked at the promotion of Top Rank and seen what they have done time and time again. Look at all the fighters they have had Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and thought it was the smartest decision because they know how to manage career and bring people through at the right time.”
“I feel that for me it was a good decision to go there. You have to go to America at some point, and Carl had to go over there as well to fight Leo Santa Cruz.
“I thought if I can go early and they were going to give me the right backing, they are the biggest promoter in the US, probably the biggest in the world, so if they are going to give me the right backing and right push there’s every chance I could break America.
Now heading into his second year as a pro the younger brother of world title challenger Jamie Conlan is happy he made the right choice. The fighter, whose father is a well respected amateur coach, has topped two TV bills in New York has fought on high profile cards and is just a month shy of sitting on the top of an SSE Arena bill.
“I think I’m probably more well known in America than a lot of American fighters. I’m selling out arenas. I have people flying in from other parts of America as well as back home to see me fight. It’s not just the Irish, it’s a mixture.”
Recent world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos awaits the ambitious fighter in Belfast on June 30 and will prove a very respectable step up. Larrinaga brings a winning record to the table this weekend, but it seems like the Falls Road fighter is keen to get him behind him so he can progress to more meaningful fights.
“It definitely time to step on. This next guy we’re fighting is 10-1, if you look at all my opponents so far not one of them has a losing record. I get an awful lot of stick from people saying who are you fighting. I know, I’ve been asking for better and better because the better the opponent the better the pay day.
“I feel I’m ready to move with this next guy. I felt like saying I want a tougher challenge but when the carrot of Belfast is dangled in front of you I need to get this guy out the way.
“He’s just another guy as part of my journey which I believe is going to go very far.”