On Saturday night, one of the hottest prospects in boxing Michael Conlan is chief support for Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao’s next World Title defence.
It is a serious step up for the 25-year-old. After just two bouts as a professional, close to 50,000 fans will be watching him at the Suncorp Stadium in Australia.
“This is bloody huge. I came out to the States, and I obviously knew ESPN was big,” he told The 42, referring to the US television channel who will broadcast the fight to millions.
“This is a serious move by Top Rank. And I’m the kind of…co-feature…for Pacquiao!”
As an amateur, Conlan won a bronze medal at London 2012 and earned gold at the 2015 World Amateur Championships and European Championships. On his pro debut, he sold out Madison Square Garden Theater in New York where Conor McGregor joined his ring walk - an indication of his immense fan base.
“There’s literally thousands of Irish going, and I’m not just saying that. It’s unbelievable. I’ll definitely have more Irish fans watching me in Brisbane than I did in Chicago.
“I’ve spoken to people in Sydney and they’ve said that everybody they know is going to the fight. And people in Melbourne have said the exact same thing,” he continued. “So it seems like everybody is travelling all over Australia for this.”
Conlan believes he developing quickly under coach Manny Robles: “I’m improving in the gym, and the sparring I’m getting is unbelievable, and I feel like I’m getting better every day.”