Michael Conlan will become greatest Irish fighter of all time says manager Matt Macklin
MICHAEL Conlan will take the first step to becoming “the greatest Irish fighter of all time” on St Patrick's Day predicts his manager Matt Macklin.
Belfast super-bantam Conlan ducks through the ropes for the first time as a pro in New York's iconic fight forum Madison Square Garden in what Macklin described as a “fairytale” debut against journeyman Tim Ibarra.
Macklin, Birmingham-born with Tipperary roots, says Friday night's six-rounder will be the first step on a ladder that will take Conlan to superstardom.
“It's the perfect launch for somebody who will eventually go down as the best Irish fighter of all time,” he said.
Three-time world title challenger Macklin first came across the former St John Bosco ABC fighter when Conlan was on his way to winning a bronze medal for Ireland at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
He now manages his career and those of elder brother Jamie and Paddy Barnes and is responsible for pairing Top Rank fighter Conlan with LA-based coach Manny Robles after the Rio Olympics last summer.
“You need the right managerial and promotional team behind you and also you need the right trainer,” Macklin explained.
“I trained with Manny Robles' for my last fight (an IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title win against Brian Rose in 2016) and I'd seen the set-up he has and how committed and organised he was and the level of sparring (including world champions Jessie Magdaleno and Oscar Valdez) that was in and around Mick's weight.
“I had one eye on that when I was over there – I thought ‘when Michael turns pro, this could be the place for him' so I recommended Manny to Michael.
“I said ‘we need to go out there and see if you like LA and the surroundings – because it's important that you move here with your family and live the life, really dedicate yourself for a few years here'.”