I'll be Belfast's next Carl Frampton, says Michael Conlan ahead of homecoming bout
Michael Conlan says he's determined to match Carl Frampton's achievements and become a multi-weight World champion.
The Belfast boxer will fight in his home city for the first time as a professional on Saturday, June 30 when he takes on an as-yet-unnamed former World title challenger.
It will be 26-year-old Conlan's eighth pro fight, after he takes on Ibon Larrinaga next week in Madison Square Garden.
And he's promising Belfast fight fans that if they come to watch, they'll be getting aboard a train tracking directly to the very top; a quest two-weight World champion Frampton has predicted he will complete.
"To do half of what Carl's done would be a massive achievement for anyone but I do aim to surpass that and go right to the top of the sport to become a multi-weight World champion," he said.
Michael's anticipating that World title shot could happen soon enough, even if the featherweight does say he'll reach his peak too late to take on Frampton himself.
"Towards the end of the year I'll step up with one or two more fights and next year I'll get the rematch with the Russian from Rio and hopefully a World title after that."
That Russian is Vladimir Nikitin, who was controversially judged to have beaten Conlan in the 2016 Olympic Games.
But before any rematch of that bout, Conlan's homecoming fight will be broadcast on BT Sport and even on ESPN across the Atlantic.
Could it feature Paddy Barnes?
"I think so," said brother Jamie, now involved in Michael's management with MTK Global.
"Michael and Paddy have been the Ant and Dec of Irish boxing growing up through the IBA and it would be fitting to have Paddy on the bill. He's got something in the works and it's ongoing but there are big times ahead for everyone at the table, including Paddy Barnes."
While Barnes is used to fighting in his home city, it's a welcome chance for Conlan to repay the support of local fans.
"I'm really looking forward to coming home," he said. "I can't remember the last time I fought in Belfast. Even as an amateur, it was rare.
"To step out as the main event at the SSE Arena is very special and something I'm really looking forward to.
"Watching Carl's fight, the atmosphere in Belfast is hard to match. I've fought all around the world and I haven't felt the atmosphere like I did in Carl's last fight.
"I see how many people travel over and I wanted this in my contract to come home. It's right for the fans who travel to watch me. This one's for them. I feel the atmosphere when they come - it's something special.
"I have in my contract at least once a year in Ireland. Seeing how Belfast nights go, if we leave a good impression, I think they're going to want to come back."
On the undercard, Belfast's Tyrone McKenna will take on Dubliner Phil Sutcliffe Jr while Declan Geraghty faces Jono Carroll in two bouts with plenty of bad blood.
Belfast favourite Paddy Gallagher and Derry's Tyrone McCullagh will also be back in the ring.
Belfast Telegraph Digital