Boxing

Michael Conlan returns to Madison Square Garden to end first year as a pro with a bang

Michael Conlan is heading back to Madison Square Garden
Andy Watters

MICHAEL Conlan returns to where it all began on Saturday night and he intends to see 2017 out with a bang at Madison Square Garden.

Conlan takes on Argentine Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1) on the undercard of the Vasyl Lomachenko/Guillermo Rigondeaux WBO super-featherweight title rumble in New York and brother Jamie and dad John will be among those at ringside.

“I’m really excited to go back to ‘The Garden’,” said Conlan.

“It’s my first time back since my pro debut and I’m looking forward to putting on another great show for all the fans that are coming too see me, it feels already like it’s my second home.

“It’s a huge night for boxing and I’m honoured to be a part of it. Make sure you tune in because this is a show not to be missed.”

Since his debut on St Patrick’s weekend, Conlan has taken his career stats to 4-0 (all stoppages). He has had fights in Chicago, Tucson and Brisbane, Australia but Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank Promotions, says that the New York market is “made for” west Belfast’s former world amateur champion.

“New York is a market made for Mick,” said duBoef.

“He has proven that with his Irish base. We have curated incredible supporting bouts to this historic night and every fight is relevant and meaningful.

“They are all stepping up and on their way to eventually headlining major events at The Garden and other major venues.”

Also in action on Saturday night is welterweight prospect Aaron McKenna. The Los Angeles-based teenage prospect from Smithboro, county Monaghan was due to make his debut at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night but was unable to after Mexican opponent Victor Eddy Gaytan was forced to pull out due to licensing issues.

However, the 18-year-old was been accommodated on the undercard of the Tevin Farmer versus Kenichi Ogawa IBF super-featherweight bill at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas against the same opponent.

“We just got back from New York after a gut wrenching disappointment,” said Rachel Charles, manager of McKenna and Donegal middleweight Jason Quigley.

“We are heading to Vegas this week to do it all over again on Saturday. Aaron took it all in his stride and after hearing our fight wasn’t going to happen he packed his gym bag and headed off to Gleason's Gym for a spar with his brother Steven.”

LEE Selby says he wants to beat Carl Frampton in Belfast next year claiming he’d have “too much class and ability” to prevent a first defeat on home soil for ‘the Jackal’.

Selby, who makes the fourth defence of his IBF featherweight title at London’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday against unbeaten Mexican southpaw Eduardo Ramirez, wants to see a round-robin shootout between him, Frampton, Scott Quigg and Josh Warrington (mandatory challenger for the IBF title) next year.

“Frank Warren has got me, Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton so those fights should be easy to make and hopefully Scott Quigg can also hop on board so we can have a round robin,” said the 30-year-old Welshman.

“Everyone can make money and we’ll find out who’s the best. Ideally, I’d like to fight three times in 2018; three months to train for each fight, then a month off in between. I’d love to beat Warrington in Leeds, beat Frampton in Belfast then propel myself into a unification fight in the US.”

Selby conceded that Frampton is a bigger puncher than he is and knows he’d have to be at his very best to have any chance of beating the two-weight world champion. However, ‘the Welsh Mayweather’ claims to have more class than any of his domestic rivals.

“Josh, Carl and Scott are all very good fighters with good qualities,” said the Chris Sanigar trained fighter from Barry.

“Warrington has a good jab, a high workrate and he has to be decent to have stayed unbeaten and become mandatory challenger.

“Carl darts in and out of range and judges distance very well for a relatively small guy. He’s experienced, well schooled and can punch. If I had a bad night he’d knock me out, no doubt. Quigg is fit and game, well seasoned.

“But I bring something different. I believe my boxing ability is better than any of them and I can always find a way to win. I’ve an edge in class over all of them.

“Frampton and Quigg might punch harder but I box far better, retain my focus, when I’m in with the big hitters. Besides, I’ve an iron chin. Power never worries me. Head shots never hurt me.

“My style is all wrong for Warrington while Quigg lacks for head movement and doesn’t give enough thought as to what’s coming back at him. That’d play right into my hands.

“Frampton’s the fight I want most because he’s the best known and a win over him would be a massive boost for my career.

“While I’d probably start favourite against the other two, I’d be even money or an underdog against Carl over in Belfast. But I believe I’d have too much class and ability.”

DANIEL McShane will make his return to the ring at the Europa Hotel, Belfast next year.

Super-featherweight ‘Insane’ has been confirmed on the MHD Promotions/A McLean Bookmakers show on Saturday, February 3.

The 24-year-old from Belfast (9-1) has been out of action for nearly three years since a dislocated shoulder led to the only defeat of his career.

That was during his tenth contest at the Andersonstown Leisure Centre in March 2015 and now McShane feels he has something to prove.

The Mount Eagles native joins a quality line up headlined by WBA International Super Featherweight champion and world number four James Tennyson, which also includes a quality undercard in Joe Fitzpatrick, Stevie Quinn jnr, Feargal McCrory and Portsmouth prospect Lucas Ballingall.

“Daniel has taken some time away from the sport because he has had a tough time of it,” said manager/promoter Mark Dunlop.

“I’m just happy he is back at the Kronk with Tony Dunlop and training alongside his good friend James Tennyson. He is still young and has plenty of time to fulfil his potential.”

Tickets are on sale now: £35 (unreserved), £45 (reserved ringside), £75 (VIP including a four-course meal). Tel: 07712 473905, email: mark@mhdpromotions.com

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