Michael Conlan: ‘Berna is a puncher, but I’m looking to take advantage of mistakes’
Michael Conlan has gained a wealth of experience in and out of the ring since making his professional debut one year ago today.
The 26-year-old from Belfast can also sell tickets – lots of them.
Conlan will be the major draw tonight, despite not participating in the main event inside The Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City, when he faces David Berna in an eight-round bout which opens an ESPN telecast (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
In his professional debut, Conlan (5-0, 4 knockouts) stopped Tim Ibarra in three rounds at The Theatre. A partisan crowd of over 5,200 cheered the young novice’s every punch, setting the stage for what many believe could be an annual appearance on St. Patrick’s Day.
“The walk to the ring and the atmosphere that night was amazing,” Conlan told RingTV.com earlier this week. “As much as I enjoyed that night and fighting again before many great fans, I have to go in and remain focused to my job.”
Berna (15-2, 14 KOs) is a hard-hitting featherweight from Hungary who will be fighting for the second time in the U.S. The 27-year-old prospect bounced back from a brace of defeats to score stoppage victories over his last two opponents.
Conlan believes Berna’s style will play into his hands and an impressive knockout on a major platform like ESPN will create new fans.
“Berna comes forward and leaves himself open a lot,” said Conlan, who is trained by acclaimed British coach Adam Booth. “He’s a hard puncher, but I’m looking to take advantage of his mistakes. I want to go in there and entertain on ESPN.”
Leading up to tonight, Conlan has completed the usual rounds with the media, conducting radio and television interviews.
“I appreciate the coverage, especially interviews on ESPN Radio,” said the former amateur star. “The amount of press who want to interview me has been amazing. It’s really humbling and it keeps me grounded.”
Conlan is one of several prospects who signed with Top Rank following the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Further down the line, one potential, perhaps inevitable, fight could come against U.S. silver medalist Shakur Stevenson.
For now, Conlan enjoys the camaraderie of sharing the same fight cards as Stevenson, Teofimo Lopez, Robson Conceicao, Antonio Vargas and others.
“There is not another promoter in boxing that has the high-quality fighters that came out of the Olympic Games. It’s friendly competition when we fight on the same cards, where we try to outdo the other. When we do fight on the same cards, I wish them the best and pull for them to win.”
Conlan could have a fight lined up in Belfast in June, but he has business to take care of against Berna tonight. One thing’s for sure, it will not be the last time Conlan makes this ring walk, whether inside the Theatre or in the arena at Madison Square Garden.
“It is a great feeling, but I always want to show what I’m capable of in every fight,” he said. “I always have the right determination to go in the ring and do my job.”
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