The Jackal made history in the ring by becoming a Ireland’s first unified world champion and the island’s second two weight belt holder. Outside of that, he has made Belfast a raucous fortress respected around the world for its atmosphere, brought regular big fight action to the city, and helped keep a number of budding talents busy in the process.
The younger of the two fighting Conlan brothers has already claimed he wants to retire with the “greatest Irish fighter of all time” endorsement ringing in his ear – and to achieve that he will would have to eclipse a growing list of Frampton fight achievements.
The Top Rank prospect has already proven his popularity with two sell out St Patrick’s Day fight nights in New York’s Madison Sqaure Garden – albeit the Theater not the main venue – and on June 30th will start what he hopes will be a Frampton style love affair with Irish fight fans.
While a bout between the pair had been suggested at the start of Conlan’s pro career, the two have since become friends, with Frampton tipping his fellow featherweight to take over his mantle as the Odyssey-filler.
Conlan hopes to emulate the Tiger’s Bay 31-year-old and outlined how “to do half of what Carl’s done would be a massive achievement for anyone but I do aim to surpass that and go right to the top of the sport to become a multi-weight World champion.”
Speaking at the opening press conference for his homecoming bill in Belfast today, Conlan stated that “I’m really looking forward to coming home.”
“I can’t remember the last time I fought in Belfast. Even as an amateur, it was rare.
“To step out as the main event at the SSE Arena is very special and something I’m really looking forward to.”
“Watching Carl’s fight, the atmosphere in Belfast is hard to match. I’ve fought all around the world and I haven’t felt the atmosphere like I did in Carl’s last fight.”
Conlan has yet to fight in Ireland as a pro but it is something he is dead set on doing throughout his career.
The 26-year-old has a clause in his contract which guarantees at least one fight a year at home – which he didn’t avail of in 2017 in favour of building to a level where he can have a competitive test.
Maintaining that relationship with home is very important to Conlan, who relocated back to this side of the Atlantic having started his pro career Los Angeles
The Olympic bronze medallist, who has fought five times in America and once in Australia so far, noted how “I see how many people travel over and I wanted this in my contract to come home.”
“It’s right for the fans who travel to watch me. This one’s for them. I feel the atmosphere when they come – it’s something special.”
“I have in my contract at least once a year in Ireland. Seeing how Belfast nights go, if we leave a good impression, I think they’re going to want to come back.”
Conlan is expected to step in terms of rounds and level of opponent in what will be his eight pro fight. The Adam Booth-trained fighter is keen to jump through the levels as he aims for a world title shot before 2019 is out.
“Towards the end of the year I’ll step up with one or two more fights and next year I’ll get the rematch with the Russian [Vladimir Nikitin] from Rio and hopefully a World title after that.”