Saturday 22 September 2018

Conlan poised for garden party in New York

Michael Conlan. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Conlan. Photo: Sportsfile

Bernard O'Neill

Michael Conlan has vowed to light up St Patrick's Day on his return to a venue he's beginning to know like the back of his hand.

The two-time Irish Olympian meets Hungary's David Berna at Madison Square Garden Theatre Club aiming for a third win at the iconic New York boxing venue.

Unbeaten Conlan, who won on his paid debut at the Garden last St Patrick's Day and in December, is aiming for a sixth straight victory.

Berna has won 15 of his 17, and, in a statistic which will probably enliven speculation before the reality of who he's sharing a ring asserts itself, 14 of those victories were by way of KO.

The Magyar feather represented his country at the 2010 Europeans in Moscow, just a few months before Irish head coach Zaur Antia identified Conlan as a potential star of the IABA High-Performance set-up.

Berna, who was selected by Conlan's Top Rank promotional team, believes the experience of 30 rounds of prizefighting in his career so far - as opposed to 17 for Conlan - will stand to him.

But Belfast-born Conlan is supremely confident ahead of the eight-rounder: "It's a big step up but when I go in there it won't look like much. When he stepped up he was beaten and I feel it's going to be the same on Saturday," he said.

Meanwhile, the USA Elites beat Ireland 7-3 in Springfield, USA on Thursday night, with former Irish coach Billy Walsh, now chief seconds with the Americans, hailing the performances of both sides.

The USA won the first five bouts on split decisions, three of which were debatable, with World Elite finalist Kellie Harrington, Wayne Kelly, Caoimhin Ferguson, Caoimhin Agyarko-Hynes, Grainne Walsh, Ger French and George Bates edged out.

Donegal's Brett McGinty, Dublin's Kiril Afanasev and Limerick's Elite debutant Paddy Donovan, who sensationally beat World No 8 Quinton Randall, won for Ireland.

"It was another great night's boxing. At the end of the day, we both are looking for a performance from our teams and we got that. The decision isn't important," said Walsh.

Bernard Dunne, IABA High-Performance director, is delighted with the way the young Irish squad under current head coach Zaur Antia are applying themselves to their task.

"The squad are focused on trying to implement things. They're trying to improve all the time, and, I have to say, throughout this whole journey in the States, they have been absolutely superb."

The USA also beat Ireland 8-4 in Boston last Monday and have won the series 2-0. Both nations meet for a third and final time in Manchester, New Hampshire next Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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