Michael Conlan has championed the thriving Irish boxing scene ahead of Saturday’s colossal homecoming night – live on BT Sport.
With some already dubbing Belfast the key fight city in Europe, Conlan is preparing to step up against Adeilson Dos Santos as the headline act of a glittering card at The SSE Arena.
The former world amateur champion said: “Boxing has always been a huge sport in Ireland but it says a lot about it that you’ve got English stars like Tyson Fury and Jack Catterall fighting here these days.
“Irish boxing is in a great place and you’ve now got some of the world’s leading fighters coming over here to experience the unique atmosphere on huge bills.
“I’ve never felt threatened by the pressure of living up to the expectations in Belfast. That stuff just doesn’t bother me and all I really have to do is be myself.
“There’s a team mentality about Belfast boxers. Everyone supports each other and if one of us does well, it benefits everyone.
“I’ve got this huge homecoming night and that has resulted in a lot of great fights getting made on the card so the whole environment is positive. It’s the same when Carl Frampton fights.
“People are starting to acknowledge Belfast as the fight capital of Europe and that’s a special thing for this city.
“Of course there is lots of competition from other cities but the recent shows being put on by Frank Warren and MTK Global on BT Sport have taken things to a new level.”
Conlan v Dos Santos headlines a card featuring Jack Catterall v Tyrone McKenna, Jono Carroll v Declan Geraghty, Johnny Coyle v Lewis Benson, Tyrone McCullagh v Joe Ham and much more.
MICHAEL CONLAN believes Irish professional boxing is the strongest it has ever been and warned the world: The best is yet to come.
Conlan returns home to Belfast on Saturday when he meets Brazil’s former world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos at the SSE Arena (Live on BT Sport) in a non-title ten rounder.
He has become one of the ﬂag bearers for Irish boxing and the 2015 world amateur champion, boomed: “Irish boxing is just getting better”
Conlan who hasn’t boxed in his home city since February 2011 added: “I think Irish professional boxing is the strongest it has ever been.
“We had the golden age of Irish amateur boxing, and right now it is the golden age of professional boxing.”
Besides Conlan’s march to the top, two-time world champion Carl Frampton is in the form of his life and close friend Paddy Barnes challenges for the WBC ﬂyweight title at Windsor Park in August.
Besides those success stories Ryan Burnett holds a WBA version of the world bantamweight title.
Conlan, 26, who has won all seven ﬁghts since turning professional in the United States insists he will be home to ﬁght once a year despite being a boxing darling in New York.
And he is dreaming of a triple world title bill boxing alongside Frampton and Barnes.
He said: “Guys like myself and Paddy have turned professional and Carl turned over earlier, but we have all added to this era which is going to take Irish boxing up another level.
“It would be unbelievable if Carl, Paddy and myself could all defend world titles on the same bill.
“It will be hard because of timing and stuff, but we are all with the same management team so it’s deﬁnitely a possibility.”
The undercard has produced one of the most competitive undercards ever seen in Belfast with a catalogue of 50-50 needle showdowns. World ranked Jack Catterall risks his WBO super-lightweight title against Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna.
There is a brilliant all Dublin rematch when Jono Carroll defends his IBF intercontinental crown against Declan Geraghty. When the warring rivals met in November 2014, Geraghty was ahead on the cards when he was disqualiﬁed in the fourth round.
In a clash of unbeaten hopefuls,
Derry’s Tyrone McCullagh meets Glasgow’s Joe Ham in vacant Celtic super-bantamweight title clash that doubles as a British championship eliminator.
The undercard is stacked with top prospects Lewis Crocker, Sunny Edwards, Padraig McCrory, Sean McComb, Taylor McGoldrick, Neslan Machado, Garry Cully plus Johnny Coyle and Lewis Benson who clash over ten rounds and recent world title challenger Gary Corcoran.
Tickets prices £250 (Inner Ring Hospitality), £200 (Outer Ring Hospitality), £120, £100, £80, £60, £50, £40 are available from the SSE Arena website.