2015 World Amateur Champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Michael Conlan fights for the eighth time as a pro and the first time in Ireland at the SSE Odyssey Arena on a stacked June 30th Belfast card.
The younger of the two fighting brothers, whose father is a respected amateur coach, ensured his record-breaking contract with Top Rank had a ‘one fight a year in Ireland’ clause.
This will be availed of for the first time next month and the Falls Road feather believes the BT Sport-broadcast clash will be the start of a something special for him personally and also feels that a number of Irish fighters will be bringing high profile fights and success to the country over the coming years.
Despite a frustrating Rio 2016, Ireland’s Olympic success at amateur level has been widely celebrated over the last 10 years and the undefeated prospect believes that will carry over into the pro’s over the coming years.
“We’re out of the golden age of Irish boxing as amateurs,” he told ITV. “I think now we’re on to the golden age in professional boxing.”
Jamie Conlan, whose last outing was a world title challenge on a massive Carl Frampton topped bill, agrees with his brother’s claims.
The popular super flyweight claims, due to the talent pool and the opportunities now presenting themselves, expectation levels have increased massively from both fans and fighters themselves.
“When I was growing up watching boxing, to see a fighter from this city become a Commonwealth champion or a British champion was held in so high esteem, but now, we expect more and more world champion,” the older of the two brothers noted.
“It shows what we expect from our fighters and it shows the level we’re actually mixing at right now.”
At present Kaite Taylor and Ryan Burnett are Ireland’s two reigning world title holders but there are a number of other fighters in contention for titles.
The likes of TJ Doheny, Paddy Barnes, Dennis Hogan and Carl Frampton are likely to fight for world titles in their next bout, Spike O’Sullivan has his sights set on the winner of Gennady Golovkin versus Saul Alvarez, while there are a host of exciting talents such as Jason Quigley, Luke Keeler, and Darragh Foley who are a string of wins away from contention.
Analysing the scene, Conlan outlined how “we’ve got Ryan Burnett at the minute, but I wholly and truly believe Carl Frampton will become world champion before the end of the year.”
“I believe that, with the time and the right guidance and just kinda the opportunity, Paddy Barnes will become world champion by the end of the year.”
Considering he fights on the undercard of Linares-Lomachenko undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York Conlan didn’t want to discuss potential opposition for June 30th out of respect for the Spaniard Ibon Larrinaga. However, 2017 world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos [19(15)-4(2)] will man the away corner in the SSE Odyssey Arena and it is the kind of step up Conlan feels he needs to make in front of knowledgeable home support.
“The fans are so passionate and they know boxing – they know if you’re fighting someone who’s no good and they’re not gonna really give you any buzz about it.
“That’s why I’ve got to make sure I’m taking a good step up in class against a quality opponent. Which will be revealed soon.”
Also appearing on the Homecoming card will be an intriguing bad blood fight between Tyrone McKenna and Phillip Sutcliffe Jr, an eagerly anticipated repeat of the 2014 fight of the year between Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty as well as fight between Paddy
Gallagher and recent world title challenger Gary Corcran and a Celtic title fight for Tyrone McCullagh.
Watch the Conlan Brothers speak to IFL TV in full below: