MICHAEL CONLAN insists that he will not be a bit-part player at Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday night when he fights in the chief-support bout to the world super-featherweight title clash between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Undefeated Belfast featherweight Conlan (4-0, 4KOs) takes to the ring for the fifth time as a pro this weekend, returning to the scene of his successful paid debut last March, when he meets Argentina’s Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1, 2KOs).
Promoters Top Rank have installed their six-round bout as the co-feature at the New York venue just ahead of the much-hyped showdown between double Olympic gold medallists Lomachenko and Rigondeaux.
A sell-out crowd of over 5,000 will be in attendance, with a large contingent of Irish fans set to be present to support Conlan, who is out to impress on a card that has attracted worldwide media attention ahead of a live ESPN broadcast in the US while BoxNation will screen the bill in the UK and Ireland.
Millions are expected to watch the ESPN TV broadcast Stateside and MTK Global-backed Conlan is out to turn heads on Saturday night.
“I feel I deserve this opportunity, 100 per cent, because it’s the same arena I sold out on my debut,” said Conlan, speaking after Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference.
“I’m here on the same card as two of the greatest pound-for-pound amateurs ever – on their undercard in the same venue I sold out on my debut – but I know there’s reason for having me on this bill because Top Rank know I can sell it. It’s great to be on it, but I know why I’m on it – because I can sell seats!
“And I know I have to impress when I’m fighting on such a big stage and when Top Rank are backing me to do the business. I’ll win and I’ll win in style on Saturday.”
The 26-year-old opted to move up in weight to campaign long-term at featherweight ahead of his last outing, resulting in an impressive second-round stoppage win over American Kenny Guzman in September.
And Conlan feels he is ready to deliver another knockout against 29-year-old Molina, who has yet to be stopped in an 11-fight career so far.
“I’m feeling good and I’m feeling strong,” said Conlan. “I’m making it easy this time, so it’s all good. I’ve learnt from my last few camps and I’ve had no problems at all this time around.
“I just can’t wait to get in the ring and deliver on the night. It’s a great shop window with ESPN showing my fight live ahead of the main event in the States, so I’m out to make a statement.”
Legendary Top Rank promoter Bob Arum reaffirmed plans to have Conlan return to boxing’s most famous fight venue next year as he backed the Irishman to deliver this weekend.
“We’re big fans of Mick. He’s been coming along terrifically and he’s going to be a co-feature at Madison Square Garden this weekend, but we’re bringing him back for St Patrick’s Day next year on another big card,” said Arum. “He’s only going to get better and he’s a future star of boxing. I expect a big performance from him this weekend.”