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Michael Conlan seals professional deal with top US promoter Arum

By David Kelly

Published 20/09/2016

Punching forward: Michael Conlan celebrates his Top Rank pro deal
Punching forward: Michael Conlan celebrates his Top Rank pro deal

World amateur bantamweight champion Michael Conlan is now aiming for professional glory after securing a contract with US promotional company Top Rank.

Veteran promoter Bob Arum, who has brought through such stars as Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao, heads the Top Rank outfit and clearly now believes that Belfast man Conlan can be his next ring star.

Conlan was Stateside at the weekend, having had interest from various promoters at home and abroad, including superstar Floyd Mayweather.

But in the end Conlan, who controversially lost his quarter-final bout at the Olympics in Rio last month, decided that it was Arum who could deliver the glittering career that he is eager to pursue.

The news came just hours after close friend Paddy Barnes had confirmed that he was turning professional with Spanish-based management company MGM.

Barnes is being lined up to make his debut on November 5 on the undercard of Conlan’s brother Jamie’s bout at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, which will be The Mexican’s first defence of his Commonwealth super-flyweight title.

Conlan may well wait until the New Year for his debut but he has no doubt that, like Barnes, he can move quickly through the professional ranks.

“I feel I can learn very quickly as a pro and I could fight for a British or Commonwealth belt in my second or third fight but I know I’ll have more fights than that. Maybe after six or seven I could be in that mix,” said Conlan, whose outburst after his loss in Rio made worldwide headlines.

As for Barnes, he also has lofty ambitions.

“The dream is to become a three-time World champion — flyweight, super-flyweight and bantamweight all within five years,” said Barnes, who is expecting the transition to the pro ranks to be a smooth one.

“I wouldn’t say training will change that much. Since I was 16 or 17 I have been training probably more than a professional. Training in Dublin with the high performance squad four times a week and twice a day. I have done nothing else, I’ve just solely focused on boxing.”

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