MICHAEL CONLAN has revealed his dream St Patrick’s Day fight for next year… a crack at IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington.
The Belfast star headlines at New York’s Madison Square Garden for the third successive year to coincide with the Irish celebration weekend on Sunday March 17 when he faces Ruben Garcia Hernandez, live on BoxNation.
Conlan has won all ten professional fights and believes that in 12 months he will be ready to conquer the world’s top 126lb boxers with Leeds hero Warrington his number 1 target.
“This time next year it could be me challenging Josh Warrington in Madison Square Garden. How good would that be?” asked Conlan.
Warrington beat Conlan’s good friend Carl Frampton in December and the Irishman, who defeated Jason Cunningham on the same bill, did some spying on his English rival after his points win.
Conlan, 27, added: “I thought Josh was fantastic against Carl.
“He had a great game plan, he stuck to it and one thing about him is that he listens to every single instruction he gets in the corner and implements everything.
“I was surprised because I did say before that Carl would win, but I do think when we do face each other I will do things Carl didn’t do and use movements he should have done.
“I feel that I could expose and navigate a win against Josh Warrington. I do believe that I will beat him, but he is a better champion than I thought he was.
“It is England versus Ireland and that adds spice because I am a very, very proud Irishman.”
Conlan knows he cannot overlook any opponents though if all roads are leading to Warrington, and Hernandez is another step up.
The Mexican, 25, has lost just three times in 29 fights with the defeats coming at the highest level.
Filipino legend Nonito Donaire and then undefeated Rafael Rivera have both outpointed him. In 2016 his corner pulled him out after seven rounds against Randy Caballero.
But Conlan insists that the improvement he has made since his St Patrick’s Day debut in the Big Apple two years ago will be too much for Hernandez.
He said: “My professional boxing style and how I have settled have improved an awful lot. I showed last year that the improvements were dramatic.
“There was a difference in my calmness, composure and how I went about the job last year compared to the first year. It was massive and I take confidence from that.
“Hernandez is a tough character, comes from the Mexican schools, has won in Europe. Only Caballero stopped him but it was a tough fight.
“He knows how to navigate the distance and is smart on the inside. He can be dirty but the plan is to do what I do best and take away what he does straight away.
“I am pushing for the KO, but if I have to go the distance to win, I will.”