Ireland’s Olympic hero MICHAEL “MICK” CONLAN will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by making his professional debut headlining a special card at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Conlan’s pro debut, which will be as a junior featherweight, in a six-round bout against Tim Ibarra (4-4, 1 KOs), of Denver, is set for Friday, March 17 at the “O’Mecca of Boxing.” And to put an exclamation point on the occasion, fellow countryman and UFC superstar and lightweight champion Conor McGregor has accepted Conlan’s invitation to walk him into the ring! Conlan and McGregor — talk about the ol’ One-Toora-Loora in combat sports.
Conlan joins an elite group of Olympic medalists, including George Foreman, Evander Holyfield and Jermaine Taylor, to make his professional debut on boxing’s most hallowed ground.
Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with Madison Square Garden, tickets to Conlan’s pro debut will go on sale Today! Wednesday, January 18 at 11:00 a.m. ET. Priced at $200, $150, $100, $75 and $50, tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008), and online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.thegarden.com.
“I’m honoured and privileged to make my professional boxing debut in the Mecca of Boxing that is Madison Square Garden, fighting in the world’s most famous arena in my professional debut on St. Patrick’s Day. It is something I never dreamed would be possible,” saidl Conlan. “But thanks to my team and Top Rank, it’s happening. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity and I hope to make St Paddy’s Day Weekend at The Garden an annual event! I have the hopes of a nation behind me and I can’t wait to go out and put on a performance for Ireland on St Patrick’s Day!”
“I am looking forward to working with Michael. I believe the kid has a very bright future in boxing,” said trainer Manny Robles. “Now that he will no longer be fighting for trophies, but instead for world titles he will be faced with greater responsibilities. He and I both are ready to take on this new challenge. It is an opportunity I feel humbled by.. I am very excited for Michael making his debut at The Garden, and I hope others are as well. He is an incredible fighter who will put on an incredible fight. And as his coach I am ready to play my role in making sure he does not disappoint his fans, but instead proves to them that he is ready to take on the world.”
“When we agreed to the deal for Mick to sign with Top Rank, and Carl Moretti told me they had put a hold on The Garden for St. Patrick’s Day, I found it hard to hold back my excitement,” said Matthew Macklin, Conlan’s manager. “It will be five years to the day that I fought Sergio Martinez there for the Middleweight Championship and I can tell Mick first hand that it will be an atmosphere like nothing he has ever experienced before! And knowing the potential that Mick has, his exceptional ability and charismatic personality, I feel that starting his career off at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Boxing on St. Patrick’s Day, is the fairytale beginning to what I believe is going to be one helluva journey!”
“Top Rank is very bullish on Mick’s long-term success as a global boxing star. His embedded fan base in New York makes it a natural for his professional debut to be as a headliner on boxing’s biggest stage — Madison Square Garden — on one of New York’s biggest holidays — St. Patrick’s Day,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.
“Some terrific boxers have fought at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day – Willie Pep, Beau Jack, John Duddy, Andy Lee, Sergio Martinez and Matthew Macklin,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events. “We look to continue that tradition on March 17th with Belfast’s Michael Conlan, who will be making his professional debut in fitting fashion at ‘The Mecca of Boxing.’”
Conlan, 25, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, produced one of the most memorable moments during last summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. A loss in the bantamweight quarterfinals to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin was arguably the most controversial of the boxing tournament. In fact Conlan hurt Nikitin so badly that the Russian forfeited his semifinal fight because he wasn’t able to recuperate from the injuries he suffered from the pasting he received from Conlan. After the decision was announced, Conlan saluted the judges with both middle fingers followed by a series of post-fight interviews ripping the decision and accusing the International Boxing Association (AIBA), which oversees amateur boxing, of corruption. AIBA sent the judges who worked that fight home in the wake of the immediate public outrage. Conlan further added to his legend by sending a Tweet to Russian president Vladimir Putin, “How much did they charge you bro???” A former amateur standout who was a 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist and 2015 World Amateur Champion — a first for a male Irish fighter — Conlan is training in Los Angeles with Manny Robles.