Super Michael Conlan heading back to Belfast after Madison Square Garden glory
Michael Conlan had the New York fight fans swooning again at the weekend and now he is ready for his Belfast homecoming in the SSE Arena at the end of June.
St Patrick's night in Madison Square Garden proved to be another special moment in the rise of the Belfast man through the professional ranks as he despatched Hungarian David Berna just one minute into the second round of their featherweight bout.
The damage - said to be a broken rib - was done late in the opening round when Conlan unleashed a whipping body shot that creased up the Magyar in extreme pain as he lay on the canvas while around him the Irish Americans were in a state of exhilaration.
Berna somehow got to his feet as the count reached nine and then survived the final 10 seconds of the round before returning to his corner where he continued to send out distress signals such was the constant pain from his ribs.
The stoppage was inevitable and Conlan, appearing relaxed and loose from the start, bided his time with a solid jab before a left hand to the chin had Berna on the canvas once again before the referee ended the punishment for the Hungarian. Now the Belfast man is possibly looking forward to a return to the Garden on May 12 as the supporting act to Vasyl Lomachenko's World title fight with Jorge Linares before making his Belfast debut as a professional.
"I was very happy with my performance even though the fight didn't go as long as I had expected and it really is such a special moment when you walk into the atmosphere and the support that I receive in the Garden - I'm very thankful for that," said Conlan, whose US promotional company Top Rank where just as pleased with night's work. "I got a text message from the Vice President of Top Rank, Todd DuBoeuf, to say 'great job and it's time to go home now' which was just what I wanted to hear. I have been on at them about making the homecoming happen and now it looks very positive.
"If I could box on the Lomachenko-Linares bill on May 12 and then return to Belfast at the end of June then that would be perfect. We'll see what happens."
Conlan, who looks as if he is ready for another good step in class, was boxing for the first time with new coach Adam Booth in his corner and feels he was beginning to demonstrate the transition he is going through with the Londoner.
"Adam was very happy with me. When I went back to the corner at the end of the first round he just told me to stay relaxed and let it flow.
"That's what I did and that body shot was just about perfect. Credit to Berna for getting up because he was in agony," added Conlan. "It showed the power I have when I am loose and fluid - it's a bit like when you see Carl Frampton do real damage, it comes when the punches are just flowing. There's more to come and I'm looking forward to a very exciting year."