Ireland's Olympic hero Michael Conlan spent Wednesday meeting with media and fans to promote his first fight since making his pro debut on St. Patrick's Day at a sold-out Theater at Madison Square Garden.
He returns to the ring in a six-round featherweight bout on Friday, May 26, headlining an all-action card at UIC Pavilion,. The event will also feature former world champion “Mile High” Mike Alvarado and undefeated Top-10 welterweight contender Alex "El Cholo" Saucedo in separate 10 and eight-round bouts, respectively.
Conlan (1-0, one KO), from Belfast, spent Wednesday hosting a press conference luncheon followed by a fan meet and greet at the Irish-American Heritage Center and seeing the sights, since this was his first visit to the Windy City. The following are his quotes from the day as well as from Carl Moretti, vice president of Top Rank, who accompanied him:
“It’s unbelievable to represent my country in the ring. I got to California to start training with Manny Robles on January 10. I love the weather in Southern California, love the heat.
“New York was something I couldn’t even dream of, just a great night. That was my first performance as a professional. I just know I can do better and look forward to a better performance in my second fight. I know how good I want to be and I know I can improve on a lot more. After New York City I took some time off and spent some time with my family and just relaxed.
“This is the next step. My preparation will be the same. It’s my job and I look forward to fighting here in Chicago.
“I loved what I’ve seen of Chicago, my first time here, it’s got a huge Irish population and it’s always nice to be surrounded by locals. A lot of people have contacted me by way of social media who live here in Chicago. It should be a great crowd.
“No stage fright for me at all, I enjoy the whole package, including talking to the media and meeting with fans I’ve always had a lot of attention on me. The amateurs and the Olympics are all in the past, it’s all about the future now. I want to stay as active as possible.”
"New York City was an event. I have never seen a pro debut explode like that. One day he will sell out Madison Square Garden in the big room, there’s no question. It’s something we feel is attainable.
“He needs experience and is getting great experience training and sparring with world champions. He’s doing everything the right way but there’s nothing like getting rounds in without headgear and with eight ounce gloves.
“The more fights he gets the better he’ll become. Boston, New York, Chicago will be the best places to host Michael's fights. But we are fielding calls from a lot of venues all over the U.S. He is an attraction.
“Especially in boxing, representing their countries while fighting in the United States is so important.
“If all goes well, he’ll fight on July 2 (July 1 in U.S.) in Brisbane, Australia on Manny Pacquiao’s world championship undercard. There is a large Irish community in Australia.”
Promoted by Top Rank, remaining tickets to Conlan’s Chicago debut are priced at $102, $52 and $32, including the facility fee. They can be purchased at the UIC Pavilion Box Office (located on Racine in between Gate 3 and 4), Ticketmaster.com and all Ticketmaster retail locations. To charge by phone call 800-745-3000. The box office is open Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The box office accepts, cash, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. They do not accept personal checks, or American Express.