Boxing

Michael Conlan will enjoy every minute of debut at Madison Square Garden

Michael Conlan arrives in New York for his professional debut against Tim Ibarra at Madison Square Garden
Andy Watters

It's dark, cold and wet here. How are things with you?

“Haha. I'm just chilling out before I head to training. It's lovely at the minute. Nice and sunny.”

I've seen the footage of you punching like a mule – you look strong and fit. You're enjoying life and training?

“I'm enjoying everything. It's a great lifestyle over here and you've got really good work at the same time. It's tough, but it's definitely worth it.”

Talk me through your training regime.

“Monday, Wednesday and Friday I spar at 9 or 9.30am so I'm up early, I have my breakfast and head to the gym. I do about two hours and then I go home and get my lunch. Shauna has it ready for me, so it's brilliant.”

You're a lucky man?

“Haha. I'm very lucky, definitely.”

Keep going about your training regime.

“I get my lunch and then chill out for a while and then I do a second session whether it be running or sprints. Sometimes I just rest because sparring has been that tough.

On a Tuesday and Thursday I'm up at half five to be at the gym for six fir my strength and conditioning.

Tuesday is strength, Thursday is conditioning. I get that session done and then I'm back in the gym at 12.”

You saw plenty of the world as an amateur. Is this what you expected as a pro?

“I just focus on boxing really and everything else is a bonus.

“I'm out here and living a life that I wouldn't be living back home. I wake up in the morning and… I live on the marina, right beside the beach so it's a nice life. It's comfortable and enjoyable. You're always happy, it's like Sunday every day here and it's easy to get on with life.”

There are world champions at the Rock Gym like Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno… Did you have to prove yourself when you went in there?

“Yes, definitely.

“There's always going to be questions asked when there's so much hype about a person coming in and I knew that I definitely had to prove myself in the gym when I came over.

“I knew I could do that and I stamped my authority in sparring and in training and I showed that I'm dedicated 100 per cent to what I want to be – a multiple-weight world champion. I still have a long, long way to go, I'm nowhere near the finished article and won't be for a long time, or a while anyway.

“I haven't had my first professional fight yet. I'm getting it at Madison Square Garden and it's a good start, a good springboard for the future and I'm looking forward to it.

“I know I have the ability and the dedication to go all the way.”

Manny Robles is working you hard. What's it like to work with a globally renowned coach like him?

“Working with him and hearing the praise that he is giving me means a lot.”

Does he give you a kick up the backside too?

“Oh yeah. He's not a guy who's going to lick your arse or let you away with anything.

“He'll tell you what you're doing wrong and he'll tell you what you're doing right and if you're doing something wrong he'll give you a telling off.

“He's not the kind of guy to let something go.”

What has he pulled you up on?

“There'd be a lot of things - my workrate, not taking time between shots, not focussing on power at times…

“There's a big difference in the amateur style and the professional style. It took me a while to adjust because I was such a good amateur and I'd been amateur for so long.

“I was stuck in the amateur system for a while when I first came over but Manny was on the ball with me. He was always on to me when I did something wrong and telling me.

“We fix things but there's still a lot of work to do. I'm no way the finished article yet. I'm definitely improving but I've still got a long way to go.”

You start against Tim Ibarra on St Patrick's Day?

“I've watched a wee bit of him on YouTube and I know he's going to come to fight. He has something to prove, he's getting on to the big stage and if he can upset me he will take off.

“He'll definitely go for it, he's not going to come in and just lie down. I'm expecting the best Tim Ibarra there's ever been.”

Your good friend Paddy Barnes had a debut to forget against an opponent who was disqualified last year. I'm sure he just wanted to get it (his debut) out of the way though. Do you feel the same about your first fight?

“I'm going to enjoy it and I'll savour it for the rest of my life.

“You only get one professional debut and if you're making a professional debut like mine you have to make the most of it. I'll enjoy every moment of it and not just let it float by and just get on with it. I want to enjoy the full thing.”

You know all about Madison Square Garden and it's history. Ali and Frazier, LaMotta v Robinson, Louis v Marciano… What does it mean to you to follow in those footsteps?

“It's unbelievable and I'm very grateful. I thank my team, my management team and my promotional team because without them it probably wouldn't be possible.

“I don't think if I had signed with any other promotional set-up I would be making my pro debut on St Patrick's Day in Madison Square Garden

“It's an absolute honour and I know the history, I know the fighters who have fought there and I'm very, very grateful to have the opportunity to fight there myself.”

Who do you see in your future? Carl Frampton? Lee Selby? Leo Santa Cruz?

“That's all in the future and it's definitely something that I do want in the future but I have to get this first one out of the way and get the work done.

“I'm definitely reaching for the stars. I want to fight all the best fighters – every one of the fighters you named I would love to fight in the future. If they have belts then I'd definitely want to beat them.”

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