Michael Conlan expected to face big-hitting Dos Santos in 'Homecoming' rumble

Michael Conlan makes his home debut at the SSE Arena on June 30
Andy Watters

BIG-HITTING Brazilian Adeilson Dos Santos is expected to be Michael Conlan's opponent for his home debut on June 30.

It hasn't been confirmed yet, but The Irish News understands that featherweight Conlan will take on Dos Santos (19-4 with 15 knockout wins), possibly for an inter-continental title, in the headline act of yet another mouth-watering Belfast fight night which will be shown live on BT Sport and BoxoNation.

The undercard features two all-Irish grudge matches in Jono Carroll versus Declan Geraghty and Tyrone McKenna's long-awaited duel with Phil Sutcliffe jnr. Also on the bill is improving welterweight Paddy Gallagher who takes on former world title challenger Gary Corcoran and Derry's Tyrone McCullagh, who goes toe-to-toe with Glaswegian Joe Ham in a Celtic title rumble.

Paddy Barnes could also feature on the show, but the unbeaten flyweight was absent from yesterday's press conference, fuelling speculation that he won't see action until Carl Frampton's Windsor Park spectacular on August 18.

Talented Conlan, who takes on 10-1 Spaniard Ibon Larrinaga at Madison Square Garden, New York on the undercard of Lomachenko-Linares on May 12, is determined to impress in his ‘homecoming' fight.

“I'm really looking forward to coming home,” he said.

“I can't remember the last time I boxed in Belfast, even as an amateur. It was very rare towards the end of my career, so for me to come home and step out into the Odyssey Arena as the main event is something special. It's something I'm looking forward to, especially after seeing Carl Frampton's last show.

“The atmosphere the Belfast fans bring is very hard to match. I've boxed in different places around the world and I don't think I've felt an atmosphere like I did a fortnight ago – it was unbelievable.”

Conlan parted company with Manny Robles in January and has since hooked up with Adam Booth. He learned a lot during his year in the unforgiving environment at The Rock Gym, but says Londoner Booth has helped him rediscover his boxing skills.

“The year in LA is going to stand me in great stead for the rest of my career,” said Conlan.

“There were wars in sparring every day against world champions like Jessie Magdaleno and Oscar Valdez but I felt that I was losing what I was best at which is my boxing skill and I feel that I've improved on that since.”

Carl Frampton – the north's first two-weight world champion – has predicted that Conlan will surpass his record-breaking achievements. Conlan is steadily building towards a featherweight title challenge and then hopes to challenge for belts in the superfeatherweight and lightweight divisions.

“Every fight is a step up in class,” he said.

“I haven't fought anyone with a losing record so every fight that I take is a step up. I've got Larrinaga in New York and then Belfast against a guy who has fought for the world title.

“Hopefully I'll get one or two more fights this year and then I'll get the rematch with the Russian - Vladimir Nikitin - from the Rio Olympics and then hopefully the world title after that.”

The light-welterweight meeting of Tyrone McKenna and Phil Sutcliffe could be the highlight of a stacked undercard. Neither pulled their punches yesterday and Dubliner Sutcliffe described the Belfast man as "Billy big balls"

"At best he got a draw in his last fight, at best," claimed Sutcliffe in reference to McKenna's points win over Anto Upton.

McKenna countered: "I'm the best light-welter in the country and I'm going to prove that.

"He's going to get knocked out, I don't see him getting past five rounds."

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