For the fourth year in-a-row Belfast boxer Michael Conlan will fight in New York’s Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s night.
The former World amateur champion is on the cusp of securing a world title fight so long as he maintains his unbeaten record in the professional ranks.
On March 17 Conlan meets Colombian veteran Belmar Preciado at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in a non-title featherweight contest scheduled for ten rounds.
31-year-old Preciado has won 20 of his 23 professional fights – 13 inside the distance. He was stopped by the highly-rated Japanese featherweight Hiroshige Osawa in December 2018 but won his two fights in 2019.
He is ranked 71st in the world whereas Conlan is listed as the 22nd best featherweight by BoxRec.
"I know how tough Preciado is, but this fight is a great test as I continue on my path towards becoming a world champion. Fighting in New York City is very special for me. The fans have been very supportive right from the beginning at my pro debut on St Patrick’s Day in 2017," said Conlan.
His Top Rank stablemate Shakur Stevenson will be in action in Madison Square Garden three nights earlier (March 14th) when he makes the first defence of his WBO featherweight world title against three-time world title challenger Miguel Marriaga.
22-year-old Stevenson won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Indeed, the US fighter was seeded to meet Conlan in the Olympic semi-final until the Belfast boxer suffered a controversial loss to Russian Vladimir Nikitin.
The latter subsequently failed a mandatory pre-fight medical and had to withdraw from the semi-final against Stevenson.
Conlan finally avenged his Rio loss to Nikitin when he beat him on points in his last professional night in December in Madison Square Garden.
There is a possibility that Conlan could challenge Stevenson for his WBO world featherweight belt but the odds are that the latter will move up a weight if he wins in March.
This would virtually guarantee the Irish fighter a crack at winning the vacant belt as he is the official number one challenger. There is speculation that the title fight could be staged in Belfast next August.
The St Patrick’s night show in MSG will also feature unbeaten American fighter Mikaela Mayer who could be a future opponent for Katie Taylor.