Michael Conlan v Tim Ibarra: Belfast fighter has St Patrick's Day to remember with victory on professional debut
Belfast boxer Michael Conlan had a St Patrick's Day to remember as he beat Tim Ibarra on his professional debut at Madison Square Garden.
The super-bantamweight stopped Ibarra in the third round of six in front of over 5,000 Irish fans in New York as he moved on from his Olympic heartbreak, where he insisted he had been cheated out of a gold medal at Rio 2016 by some poor scoring.
Conlan, who was joined on his walk to the ring by UFC fighter Conor McGregor, was in no mood to leave this one up to the judges and forced referee Benjy Esteves Jr to step in when a powerful right hand left his American opponent on the ropes.
The 25-year-old has been tipped for the top, with his US-based promoters Top Rank booking out the MSG for the next five years, and Conlan was only too happy to build up the hype.
Conlan was clearly delighted with his victory.
He said: "There was pressure and the thing I was most worried about was my performance.
"At times it showed because I was a bit reckless and was not timing my shots. I was just looking for the knockout.
"I am grateful to all the fans who travelled here. I have never experienced anything like that atmosphere in my life.
"To have that on my debut - I do not think it will ever be beaten."
McGregor was also impressed with Conlan's debut display.
"It was beautiful work. You got the win and the win is the most important thing."
McGregor also gave his clearest indication yet that he will fight Floyd Mayweather.
"You're the boxing guy? I'm the boxing guy. Watch me take over boxing.”
"Trust me on that. No one in this boxing game knows what's coming. Trust me on that. When I step in there, I'm going to shock the whole goddamn world. Trust me on that.
"Look me in the eyes. Twenty-eight years of age, confident as a m**********r, long, rangy, dangerous with every hand. Trust me, I'm going to stop Floyd and you're all going to eat your words.
"The whole world is going to eat their words."
Conor McGregor yelling instructions & throwing punches in a fur coat during Michael Conlan's fight last night pic.twitter.com/1n8jf28FUC— BigSport (@BigSportGB) March 18, 2017
Last weekend Mayweather confirmed he was officially 'out of retirement' to take on the Irishman.