Debutant Mick Conlan wants to do for Irish boxing what Conor McGregor has done for Irish mixed martial art.
Former Crumlin BC amateur McGregor, who now has a boxing licence with the California State Athletic Commission, has put Irish MMA on the map and worked his way to becoming the biggest star in the sport and a massive crossover personality in recent years, becoming a two weight champion with both Cage Warriors and the UFC.
Some would argue the likes of Carl Frampton, Andy Lee and even Conlan’s manager Matthew Macklin have showed the credentials of Irish fighting Stateside, but Conlan claims the Irish people need an Irish boxing star and he is ready to fill the void.
This will begin at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday – St Patrick’s Day – where the Olympic bronze medalist will headline a Top Rank card.
Speaking to ESPN about his debut and the interest it has generated, the two-time Olympian admitted that “I’m taken aback by [the fact that around 2,000 Irish fans are travelling to his fight].”
“I’m very grateful for it. I have a great fan base and they are great traveling fans. I have the backing of my country and I carry the hope of a nation. They need a huge star coming through. They have McGregor in MMA and I feel I’ll be the guy in boxing. It’s in my grasp,” he added.
The Belfast fighter has been handed the dream debut, going straight in against Tim Ibarra over six rounds at the Mecca of boxing. Another profile bonus for the Falls Road star is the fact that none other than McGregor himself will carry the flag for his ringwalk before he trades leather for the first time as a pro.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be great,” Conlan said. “I just asked him and he said it would be an honor for him to do it and it’s an honor for me to have him do it.”