The hoopla surrounding featherweight prospect Michael Conlan’s professional debut on March 17 was like nothing the boxing world has seen in years.
The Irish Olympic star’s first professional bout came on St. Patrick’s Day at a sold-out Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and it had the feel of a major world title fight. Conlan’s six-round bout against Tim Ibarra, who he knocked out in the third round, was the main event, and there was a large media contingent on hand, mainly because they were already in town for the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs middleweight championship fight the next night in the Madison Square Garden main arena.
Top Rank promoted the Conlan fight like a big-time event. It got tremendous publicity, and when Conlan came to the ring, it was over the top. Bagpipers playing traditional Irish music led the way, the crowd was electric and UFC superstar Conor McGregor, Conlan’s pal, walked with him.
When it finally came down to the fight, Conlan was a bit overwhelmed, and it showed in a performance that was a bit unfocused and ragged. Conlan is the first to admit that.
“It was everything I dreamed of and more. I always dreamed my debut would be big but didn’t think it would be as big as it was. It blew me away,” Conlan told ESPN in an interview this week. “I just wanted to take the guy out for the crowd. I should have taken my time. I got the knockout but I wanted it to be a perfect one.
“I didn’t really think my performance was the best, but there was the added pressure of what was going on. I was too eager. I was way too eager. I was swinging, I wasn’t taking my time.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who is as bullish on Conlan’s future as any of the young fighters he promotes, agreed that Conlan…