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Michael Conlan faces Belmar Preciado on March 17 on ESPN+ in New York

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By Paul Cullen: Two-time Olympian Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) will be fighting next month against Colombian Belmar Preciado (20-2-1, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round fight on March 17th on St. Patrick’s Day on ESPN+ at Madison Square Garden in New York.

This will be Conlan’s seventh time fighting at Madison Square Garden since turning pro in 2017. That venue has become Conlan’s second home, and he’s looked sensational fighting there.

This is a Top Rank Boxing promoted card. The start time for the card is at  8:00 p.m. ET/PT at 5:00 p.m.

Conlan vs. Preciado will be the main event on the March 17th card on ESPN+. In the co-feature, Mikaela Mayer faces Melissa Hernandez.

The 28-year-old Conlan will be looking to pick up his 14th victory as a pro since joining the professional ranks in 2017 after a sparking career in the amateur ranks in his native Ireland.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is bringing #1 WBO, #3 WBA, #7 IBF and #12 WBC featherweight contender Conlan along slowly.

In contrast, fellow Top Rank fighter Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), who turned pro at the same time as Conlan, is already a world champion in having recently captured the vacant WBO featherweight title last October with a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez.

Stevenson, 22, is six years younger than the 28-year-old Conlan. For Stevenson, he was put in the perfect situation to win the vacant WBO 126-lb title in facing Gonzalez, who is a beatable fighter.

If that had been Conlan that was given the opportunity to fight for the vacant WBO featherweight title against Joet, he probably would have won the belt. Top Rank has given the 2016 U.S Olympic silver medalist Stevenson an early push.

The talented Conlan is coming off of a big win over Vladimir Nikitin in his last fight on December 14 at Madison Square Garden. This was sweet revenge for Conlan, as he’s lost a controversial decision to the Russian fighter Nikitin in the 2016 Olympics by a 3-0 score. Many boxing fans felt that Conlan was robbed in that fight, and should have been given the victory.

Nikitin also beat Conlan by a 3-0 score at the 2013 World Amateur Championships quarter-finalist in Almaty, Kazakhstan. That was another fight in which Conlan fought well enough to deserve a decision, but came up empty with the scoring by the judges.

With all that baggage from those two defeats that Conlan carried with him into his fight with the 29-year-old Nikitin (3-1) last December, it was great for him to finally get a win in their three-fight rivalry. The scores were 100-90, 98-92, 99-91.

Conlan is now in position to challenge for a world title with his #1 ranking with the World Boxing Organization at featherweight. It’s going to be up to Top Rank how long they want to wait before they match Conlan against WBO 126-lb champion Shakur Stevenson.

It’ll be a tough fight for Conlan, but a winnable one. With Top Rank, you can’t be sure what they’ll do with these two young stars. Perhaps they’ll keep them apart so they don’t ruin one of the two revenue streams that they have with them.

The 31-year-old Colombian Preciado (20-2-1, 13 KOs) will be a hard fight for Conlan. Preciado has won his last two fights in beating Jose de Jesus Lopez and Benito Gonzalez after losing by a disappointing 9th round knockout to Hiroshige Osawa in December 2018.

“I’m honored to return to the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, and fight for the fourth straight St. Patrick’s Day,” Conlan said. “I know how tough Preciado is, but this fight is a great test as I continue on my path towards becoming a world champion.

Conlan will be looking to showcase his skills in front of his New York fans in this fight on March 17th. It’s a great opportunity for Conlan to win new fans while getting ready for a world title shot in the near future.

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