I had to look at everything. First thing in my head was who was going to pay me the most obviously. Who’s going to put up the most money and the most lucrative deal and I had a few.
The second thing I looked for was who’s going to promote me the best and who’s going to be the best for my career. How am I going to be the best Michael Conlan, how am I going to be Ireland’s greatest ever. I think the best way to do that is to be a huge name in America. Because if you’re a huge name in America you’re obviously going to be a huge name back home. So I started looking at promoters in America, obviously you have Golden Boy there as well. Towards the end there when negotiations were almost done, Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon were on the phone. I looked at the Top Rank deal, I think Lou Dibella was trying to get in contact with [Matthew] Macklin [his manager]. So I just decided who takes the best from the Olympic Games, who takes the amateurs and turns them into champions and if you look at Top Rank’s track record it’s unbeatable.
Top Rank they have the best matchmaker in Bruce Trampler. They match you right the whole way through your career.
It was paying the most, the best team and you know what, they’re going to promote me in one of the best cities in the world, in New York.
Is your first pro fight going to be in New York?
My first fight’s going to be New York, St. Paddy’s day weekend [March 17], in the theatre at Madison Square. That’s a fight that every Irish fighter fighting in America dreams of.
What sort of impression did Bob Arum make on you?
He was unbelievable… He knew so much about me and he was so interested. Sometimes you walk away and you go ‘I’m not too sure’. I walked away saying these guys are really going to look after me. These guys are really interested in me. I just felt so happy and comfortable.
Who’s going to be your trainer?
I’m going to go out to LA. I’m going to train with Manny Robles. He’s got a great gym there and he’s got great sparring partners for me, with Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno, there’s guys there around my weight division.
There’s a lot of good fighters around him… I’m going to go over and have a trial with him but I think he’s a great coach so I’m really looking to work with him. Jason [Quigley] has told me things about him also. So I look forward to working with him and seeing what he’s like.
There plenty of big fights potentially for you, Shakur Stevenson as a professional or even Carl Frampton. Can you speculate about the big fights you’d like, down the line?
With me and Shakur we didn’t fight [at the Olympics] but we were meant to fight. We have that mutual respect. We know we’re good fighters and we’re not afraid to fight each other. I think it makes sense for a future fight, a super-fight and a big money fight. I’ve got a rivalry already.
Carl obviously, an unbelievable champion, a great fighter and he’s from Belfast. I’m from Belfast too so it’s a massive fight. It’s bigger than the Stevenson fight. In the future I would love to fight Carl. I would love to test myself against him. I believe I could beat him. Every fighter has to believe in themselves. People probably say I’m stupid but I believe that way and I think that way. That fight would be unreal for me and for Ireland I think. I think it would be Croke Park, 80,000 people and you’d get what you want, you’d get a great fight. Obviously I have to take time. It’s a good bit away yet because I have to build myself and adjust to the pro ranks and just get on with business first.
Me and Carl Frampton in Ireland that sells to everybody, that sells to the whole world, even me and Carl Frampton at the Barclay Center or Madison Square Garden or Yankee stadium that would be unbelievable.