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I'll be a real knockout on the big stage, vows Michael Conlan

By Adam McKendry

Michael Conlan has declared that he has to knock out opponent Tim Ibarra when he makes his professional debut at Madison Square Garden.

Conlan confidently stated at yesterday's press conference that he would get off to the perfect start, and admitted he wants to put in a strong all-round performance in New York.

The 25-year-old is due to take to the ring in the early hours of Saturday morning (UK time), and is favourite to beat Ibarra.

Despite the American's uninspiring 4-4 record, Conlan is expecting a tough fight, but one he is confident he will win in spectacular style.

"Tim's going to come to fight," said the Belfast man. "He's 4-4, he's had a good training camp and he's a hungry fighter.

"He wants to put bread on his table and unfortunately for Tim on Friday night I'm going to have to knock him out.

"I have to look good while I'm doing it and I'm looking forward to it."

Looking good shouldn't be a problem, especially since he's enlisted MMA superstar Conor McGregor to walk to the ring alongside him holding the Irish tricolour.

The Dubliner is already a big hit Stateside after his achievements in the UFC, and his presence will go a long way to winning Conlan a few more fans in the US.

"It's going to be a great night, we have Conor (McGregor) coming out with me, who's going to carry the tricolour - I asked him at an event in Belfast and he said it would be an honour," Conlan said.

"To have him, one of the biggest stars in combat sport at the minute, carrying the tricolour in for me is a complete honour, I'm very grateful."

Although he is yet to even step into the ring for the first time since turning professional, the Olympian is already looking ahead to the future.

He has some big boots to fill in terms of those who have made their professional debuts at Madison Square Garden after high-profile Olympic appearances as he follows in the footsteps of Evander Holyfield, George Foreman and Jermain Taylor -an esteemed American trio who amassed 154 wins between them throughout their careers.

But Conlan says he already has his sights set on being the greatest ever boxer from Ireland, and is already dreaming of winning World titles in three different divisions.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the future but I'm ready to become a three-weight World champion," Conlan confidently declared.

"I truly believe I will and that I will become Ireland's greatest ever fighter, and that starts Friday night with me beating Tim Ibarra."

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