New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden will be awash with St Patrick’s Day celebrations on Saturday but the boxing hero fans are relying on to lead the party, Michael Conlan, must remain dispassionate.
In his first fight under new trainer Adam Booth, the gifted Irish featherweight faces a significant step up in class against heavy-handed Hungarian David Berna (15-2-KO14).
Conlan (5-0-KO4) said: “You could say this is my first real test but I’m more than ready. I’ve been to the pinnacle of amateur boxing so I know what it’s like to feel the weight of a country’s hope on my shoulders.
“Berna is a good fighter so I need to be focused on that. Once the job is done, then why wouldn’t I go and celebrate victory and St Patrick’s Day with all the people who’ve spent their hard-earned money to support me?
“I’m delighted with the support. It’s been unbelievable and I’m very lucky to be Irish. Fighting on St Patrick’s Day in front of so many people cheering for me is a dream come true.”
Having excelled for his country in the unpaid ranks, Conlan is basing his professional career Stateside. In the Irish stronghold of The Big Apple, he’s already feeling at home as he prepares to fight at The Garden a third time.
Conlan added: “I’m signed to Top Rank and Bob Arum, so it’s great to have so many Irish people living in the U.S or travelling over to come and watch me fight.
“I had Conor McGregor ring walk with me for my debut and that was nice because it was the first time. It was more of an event than a boxing match.
“Now, I don’t mind who ring walks with me. I can stand on my own and Madison Square Garden already feels like a home from home for me.
“I’m not the kind of fighter to start picking names out and talk trash about anyone but this time next year, I want to be challenging for world titles.”