Imagining Mick Conlan’s New York debut card

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News emerged on Monday evening that Mick Conlan will in fact headline the Madison Square Garden Theater on his St Patrick’s Day debut rather than just appear prominently on the undercard.

The decision to thrust Conlan to the forefront so early is a huge indicator of Top Rank’s belief in and intentions for the Irishman.

Further details of the card will be released at a press conference on October 28th in Belfast. However, looking at what we already know, Irish-Boxing.com have speculated what the show at the 5,600-seater venue may look like.

Mick Conlan, having foregone a place on the Vargas-Pacquaio undercard next month, will top the bill for his first professional contest. The 2015 World Amateur champion will jump straight into a six-rounder due to his vast experience of five-round bouts in the World Series of Boxing. Due to the prominent positioning of his spot on the card, we can also expect a solid, durable, above-average debut opponent that will somewhat test Conlan.

World title-chasing lightweight Felix Verdejo [22(15)-0] has already been confirmed as the co-feature on the card. Rated at #1 with the WBO and #4 with the IBF, the 2012 Olympian is heavily tipped to win World honours in 2017, and the spot on the Conlan card could be his last bout before a title fight.

Aside from that, there are no other confirmations. However, flyweight Paddy Barnes looks a near certainty for the card, with Conlan telling Irish-Boxing.com that he has already had positive conversations with Top Rank about getting his Belfast bud on the show and Barnes himself confirming to Balls.ie that he will appear.

Between Conlan’s managerial deal with MGM, and Top Rank’s assertion that there will be an Irish theme to the card, there are a few other fighters who look like strong possibilities.

From the Top Rank stable, New York light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan [27(17)-0] is a good bet to feature. The Irish-American World title-chaser of Navan descent would sell plenty of tickets for the show and seems a logical choice. The Long Islander has a desire to face another Irish-American, Joe Smith Jr, on St Patrick’s Day, but with the Irish Bomber taking on Bernard Hopkins in December, this does not look likely.

Brazilian lightweight Robson Conceição, a gold medalist in Rio, is another logical choice. It would make sense for Top Rank to market their Olympic Class of 2016 together. Any subsequent signings from the Games could also feature.

From MGM, Conlan’s brother Jamie [17(11)-0] could feature, and ‘The Mexican’s’ penchant for thrilling wars would certainly go down well in America. On Top Rank’s books there is a super flyweight from Hong Kong by the name of Rex Tso [20(12)-0] and, like Jamie Conlan, he is highly ranked with the WBO. An eliminator between the two makes sense in theory, however whether Tso would travel from his lucrative fanbase in the Macau/Hong Kong area is another story.

Then there is Stephen Ormond [21(11)-3(1)] who already has a fanbase in the US North-East, albeit primarily in Boston, while another MGM 140lber, Phil Sutcliffe Jr [11(7)-0], has called for a fight with Irish-American Danny O’Connor [27(10)-3(1)] on the bill.

Indeed most of MGM’s Irish roster will be vying for a spot on the card, with the likes of Deco Geraghty, Gary Sweeney, Jono Carroll, and Tyrone McKenna all possibilities. Additionally nearby American-based Irishmen such as Larry Fryers, and Irish-Americans such as Jimmy Kelleher and Matt Doherty, could also help but bums on seats.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie