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Michael Conlan books dream Belfast homecoming bout

Featherweight prodigy Michael Conlan wants a challenger with ambition for his Belfast homecoming on June 30 after cruising to a clinical points win over Ibon Larrinaga.

Conlan eased to 7-0-KO5 with a routine decision victory at Madison Square Garden but admits he was at times frustrated by Larrinaga’s consistent refusal to stand his ground and engage.

With tickets for his summer showcase at The SSE Arena already flying off the shelves, Conlan is more determined than ever to provide his fanatical supporters with a spectacle to remember next time out.

Conlan said: “The better the opponent I face, the better I become. I’m dying for an opponent to come towards me. I want to face someone who’s trying to win in Belfast.

“I didn’t put in an amazing performance last night but it just makes me want to get straight back in the gym and start getting ready for Belfast. I’m going to put on a great show.

“Every fighter wants to look spectacular every time but when I look back, I’ll know that the Larrinaga fight stood me in good stead. It’s a lot more difficult to fight someone who’s just trying to survive than it is to face a better opponent coming to win.

“I’m still learning and improving. Although I was frustrated at times, I took things away from it such as discipline. I practiced some things we’d been working on in the gym and it’s good to get some rounds in.

“Belfast will be a lot different…”

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Michael Conlan will make a triumphant return to Belfast on June 30 when he makes his first appearance as a professional boxer on Irish soil.

The 26-year-old former amateur world champion (6-0-KO5) has already conquered the United States – headlining a jam-packed Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s Day and serving up a two-round stoppage.

Conlan, who is promoted by US giants Top Rank, will fight again at New York’s flagship venue on May 12’s Jorge Linares v Vasyl Lomachenko card before returning to showcase his stunning talents at The SSE Arena in a bout screened by BT Sport.

Conlan said: “For me, to be back in Belfast is a dream come true. Once I signed the professional contract in America with Top Rank, one thing I wanted to make sure is that once a year I would fight at home.

“The first year, it hasn’t been doable because I wanted to wait for a really meaningful bout. This time it’ll be something very good and I can’t wait.

“What’s good is that because of what I’ve experienced at Madison Square Garden, I’ll be in control of my emotions. I’ve already fought in front of mass support and it’ll stand me in great stead.

“In some ways, I have to treat it as just another fight. These guys are there to test for me different things. This guy will provide another test – my toughest test – but it’ll be another win for me. It’s a plan and simple task so I just do my job.”

Conlan’s brother, MTK Global Professional Development Coordinator Jamie Conlan – a Belfast boxing legend himself – added: “It’s going to be a memorable night for Michael, our family, for Belfast boxing and for Irish boxing as a whole.

“It means a lot to us for Michael to be back in our home fighting at The SSE Arena in front of all our friends and family. It’s an atmosphere like no other.

“The night marks me passing on the torch to Mick. He’s already proven himself world-class as an amateur and I’ve every confidence he’ll shine even more brightly as a professional by winning multiple world titles.

“I’m going to be there every step of the way in Mick’s career. I’ll throw every punch with him and I’ll absorb every punch with him. I’ve given him his fair share of beatings over the years but he’s turned out to be a pretty good fighter, hasn’t he?!”

Promoter Frank Warren said: “I’m thrilled to be bringing Irish amateur hero Michael Conlan back to his hometown. The Irish have been desperate to see him in action back home and on June 30 they will get the chance to watch one of the best featherweight prospects in the world in the flesh.

“There is no doubt he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Carl Frampton and Wayne McCullough – two of Ireland’s finest. He has made an explosive start to life in the professional code and I’m predicting fireworks from him on his big homecoming.”

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