THERE was an electric, Guinness-fuelled atmosphere at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York on Saint Patrick’s Day evening, as former Irish amateur standout Michael Conlan secured a stoppage success on his professional debut. The vast majority of the sold-out 5,102 crowd inside the venue had come to celebrate Conlan’s pro unveiling on St Paddy’s Day, yet there was one man who received an even louder cheer from the vociferous audience than Conlan – none other than UFC superstar and proud Irishman Conor McGregor.
After accompanying Conlan on his ringwalk – wearing sunglasses and with an Irish flag draped across his shoulders – McGregor watched the fight unfold from ringside. The MMA hero – on his feet throughout – launched imaginary punches in an animated fashion as he implored Conlan to continue to throw his jab. When the referee stepped in to award Conlan the victory in the third round against Tim Ibarra, McGregor hurled the Irish flag into the ring in celebration.
Following the contest, McGregor was interviewed briefly in the ring, where he declined to comment on his own boxing aspirations – namely his well-publicised attempts to square off against retired former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. McGregor said: “Tonight is Michael’s night. I’m here to support him and enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day.”
On his way back to the dressing room with Conlan, the outspoken and self-assured McGregor pointed at a group of journalists and declared: “You are the boxing guys. Watch me take over boxing. I am boxing.” Considering he is yet to even contest a professional boxing bout, many people would disagree with McGregor’s outlandish claim. Especially a certain Mr Mayweather…