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Friday 2 December 2016

Conlan plans NY pro debut on St Patrick's Day

Michael Conlan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Michael Conlan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Matthew Macklin has revealed that Michael Conlan passed up the chance to box on Manny Pacquiao's comeback undercard in order to prepare for a huge professional debut date at New York's Madison Square Garden Theatre on St Patrick's weekend.

And Conlan's new manager has assured Irish fight fans that the amateur world champion will return to Ireland for a regular yearly fight date.

Conlan confirmed on Monday night that he has signed professional terms with US outfit Top Rank, the promotional company behind eight-weight world champion Pacquiao and a host of other star boxers.

The Belfast bantamweight is set to make his debut at Madison Square Garden Theatre in the first of a six-fight-per-year deal with Top Rank following his departure from the amateurs after a highly-contentious Olympic defeat to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in Rio.

Macklin, the former European middleweight champion, revealed that Top Rank were keen to get their new star on a November 5 card in Las Vegas that will park Pacquiao's return to the ring following a brief seven-month retirement.

But Macklin and Top Rank ultimately decided that the 24-year-old should rest up after a hectic amateur schedule over the last year, instead favouring a sensational debut date in New York's Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden.

"They wanted him initially to box on November 5 on the Manny Pacquiao card," said Macklin. "But we explained that the last four years have been pretty hectic. So we said, 'enjoy yourself between now and Christmas, then get the head down in January and then make your debut on Paddy's weekend'. That's the real beginning then."

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