Denied Rio medal, Irish fighter debuts on St. Patrick's Day
NEW YORK (AP) Michael Conlan wasn't going to take it quietly when judges at the Rio Olympics gave his Russian opponent a controversial decision win.
His pro debut on St. Patrick's Day at Madison Square Garden isn't expected to be very quiet, either.
''We've got a lot of rowdy Irish people coming over,'' Conlan said Wednesday. ''The debut is going to be something else.''
Conlan tips off his pro career March 17 in the smaller theater at the Garden, but it might not be long before he starts filling the main arena himself. Conlan is teaming up with Top Rank, which has big plans for the Irish fighter as a pro.
''He's somebody who's going to sell this house out many years to come,'' Top Rank's Todd DuBoef said at a news conference announcing the fight. ''He has incredible star qualities.''
Conlan made a splash in Rio de Janeiro, where he lost a decision to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin, by flashing obscene gestures at the judges after the fight and then sending a tweet to Vladimir Putin suggesting the Russian president helped fix the fight.
''Hey Vlad,'' he tweeted. ''How much did they charge you bro??''
The 2015 bantamweight amateur world champion didn't win a medal in Rio but is confident he will win a lot as a pro.
''I truly believe in my ability. I'm a fighter who speaks with complete confidence at all times,'' he said. ''No matter who's in front of me, no matter what day it is, no one's going to beat me.''
Conlan will make his pro debut in a scheduled six-round super bantamweight fight with Colorado's Tim Ibarra, who is 4-4.
The fight comes a day before Gennady Golovkin defends his middleweight titles against Daniel Jacobs in the main Garden arena.