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Debut beyond my wildest dreams, now I'm hungry for more: Conlan

By David Kelly

Michael Conlan will enjoy a day at Disneyland this week before focusing on preparing for two fights inside a month, including a return to Madison Square Garden.

Conlan admitted he was "blown away" by the reception he received before and after his successful pro debut in New York in the early hours of Saturday morning, stopping American Tim Ibarra after 59 seconds of the third round.

The Belfast man will now return to the ring on either May 12 or 19 in Boston as he seeks to continue learning his trade as a professional.

"I'll be out in May and then I am being lined up for June 12 back at the Garden, which is great," said Conlan, who donned a sparkling green top hat and waistcoat for his entry into the pro ranks before a 5,000 sell-out at the Madison Square Garden Theatre.

"The Garden is the place for me, it felt so great to be there and the whole experience is something that I couldn't have dreamed of.

"With my next fight not until May, I can enjoy this week off. I think it will be a case of daddy day care looking after my daughter Luisne. It's her birthday on Thursday so Shauna and I will take her to Disneyland.

"It was a hard three months getting ready for this and there was a lot of anticipation and expectation around me so it will be nice to have a rest.

"The support I got was incredible, there were hardcore boxing fans and casual, non-boxing people so to get that on my debut was amazing.

"The ring walk is something that I'll never forget. I had some butterflies but when I stood looking out at the crowd going mental and then walking to the ring I felt very calm. I actually walked slowly to the ring and soaked up the atmosphere.

"I was able to enjoy it more than I had when boxing at the Olympics or in the World Championships because in the amateurs you went to the ring so quickly and were just so eager to get on with it.

"But I really enjoyed it and felt so proud to have so many people behind me - some people don't have that support even in World title fights."

While Conlan, who was walked to the ring by UFC superstar Conor McGregor, savoured every moment of his opening night in the Garden, the World amateur champion nevertheless admits he, naturally, still has a lot to work on.

"I'm my own worst critic so I know that it was a rushed performance but then you have to consider the situation and the hype around the fight," he added.

"I'll probably never feel that same pressure for the rest of my career.

"The experience will be invaluable for further down the line. I'll probably have another six-rounder in my next fight and I'll go back to the gym to work on a few things. I want to have a more controlled performance the next time and I will.

"I said that I would get the guy in the third round and I did and maybe I've started a trend with predicting rounds!"

The reaction from supporters and his promoter Bob Arum was unanimously one of sheer delight and the veteran boxing powerbroker says he is already plotting a mouthwatering duel between Conlan and fellow Olympian, the American star Shakur Stevenson.

"Are Conlan and Shakur Stevenson going to fight? Yes. It'll be a big fight and a major fight," said Arum. "I think this kid can be absolutely huge. He excites people."

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