Michael Conlan returns to Madison Square Garden for St Patrick's Day rumble

Michael Conlan turned in the best performance of his pro career so far against Luis Fernando Molina in December
Andy Watters

MICHAEL Conlan returns to New York boxing Mecca Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day to take on David Berna.

The Belfast featherweight – in his first outing with new trainer Adam Booth – is fancied to hand the Hungarian the third defeat of his 18-fight career and then set his sights on a homecoming bill in Belfast in June.

“He's definitely a bit of a step up,” Conlan told The Irish News from his hotel in Manhattan yesterday.

“He has a nice record – 15 wins and 14 knockouts and only two losses so, on paper, it's a big step up but when I go in there I'll so my class and it won't look like much.

“The two fights when he has stepped up he has been beaten and I feel like it's going to be the same on Saturday night.”

World Amateur champion Conlan made his professional debut at ‘the Garden' on St Patrick's weekend last year. Twelve months on he now has a 5-0 record with four stoppage wins, has swapped Manny Robles' gym for Booth's and switched his training base from Los Angeles to London. One thing that hasn't (and won't) change is his taste for fighting in New York.

“Fighting here is like a birthday present every year,” he said.

“Fighting at the Garden on St Patrick's Day… It's very hard to say there's a better place in the world to fight because the atmosphere is amazing. Irish people come from everywhere to New York for St Patrick's Day and end up going to the fight so it's great – they get to enjoy it and they're always rowdy.

“I don't think there are better fans than Irish boxing fans and I think that shows every time an Irish fighter gets into the ring. I'm looking forward to it.”

There have been whispers of Conlan appearing on a Belfast pro bill with his friend Paddy Barnes – who is chasing a shot at Sho Kimura's WBO flyweight title - in the summer.

“June time it looks like it's going to happen,” said Conlan, adding: “If there's no Mick Conlan show in town, there'll be no Paddy Barnes show. That's just the way it is.”

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