27-year-old Irishman Michael Conlan (10-0-6KO) returns to work next Sunday at the Madison Square Garden Theater fighting at the iconic venue in front of what will be no doubt another passionate Irish crowd in New York cheering him on this St. Patrick’s weekend.
Indeed, it’s a feeling Conlan is starting to get to know now in what will be his fifth fight at MSG as a pro to date in a bout on Sunday that will mark exactly two years as a professional for him so far.
That said, when Boxing News and Views caught up with the hard hitting and popular Irishman ahead of the fight he was keen to impress upon us just how special a feeling it still is for him:
“I’m delighted and honoured to be headlining again at MSG on St Patrick’s Day. It’s a feeling which is very hard to describe as it is that good. The hairs on my neck stand up just thinking about the amazing atmosphere created by the fans. I’m very lucky and grateful to have such a great fan base — I can’t wait to put on another show for them.”
Conlan will take on teak tough 25-year-old Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez (24-3-2-10KO) on Sunday, March 17th. A man who not long ago took former fighter of the year Nonito Doniare the distance in a 2017 bout that Donaire won by unanimous decision.
Conlan is clearly is not underestimating this toughness and durability as he added:
“He’s tough, rugged and tricky. He’s a tough, experienced Mexican who has been in with some top names. I’m looking forward to testing my abilities and what I’ve been working on against him.”
Early last year Conlan made the decision to relocate his training back to the UK and switch trainer to respected coach Adam Booth.
A man well known for his crafty tactics and meticulous attention to detail personified by an inhuman passion for studying the sweet science. I wanted to know how Mick has been getting on with Booth now that they’ve been together for a little over a year.
“Training with Adam is going fantastic, I feel like I am improving everyday with him. We have been working on developing and fine tuning all parts of my game.”
We now live in a boxing era that is perhaps more fan-driven than ever before due to the advent of social media and the internet.
A time where boxing fans are demanding the big fights earlier than ever, where undefeated records are not as important as they used to be and where fans want to see prospects put into world title fights very soon after turning pro.
Conlan is keeping his feet firmly on the ground however and admitted he’s a bit away just yet from a title shot and told us who at the top of his (featherweight) division he’d like to see duke it out:
“If I’m honest I would say St Patrick’s Day next year I will challenge for a title but it could possibly happen before then depending on how my 2019 plays out. It’s one of the most stacked divisions (featherweight) in boxing in my opinion and going by results it’s hard to split the champions — I would like to see (Leo) Santa Cruz and (Gary) Russell Jr. face each other for the number one spot.”
On a final note, I asked Mick if a showdown with fellow Top Rank promotional stablemate Shakur Stevenson is still something he wants given the similar age, same weight class, career progression and standout amateur backgrounds both sweet science practitioners have.
It seems like both a logical and mouth-watering fight that is building organically at the moment.
“Yes — it’s 100% still something that interests me.”
What a fight it promises to be at some point.
Conlan takes on Hernandez this coming Sunday on St. Patrick’s Day at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York live on the ESPN+ app in the US and on BoxNation in the UK and Ireland.