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Move over 'Melo: Conlan promoters eyeing move upstairs to Madison Square Garden's main arena

Though the fixture schedule of the Knicks and Rangers will have to be taken into account.

Ciarán Gallagher reports from New York

TOP RANK CHIEFS are confident that Michael Conlan will be headlining at Madison Square Garden’s main arena by next year as they look to put a fight schedule in place for the Belfast native.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony shoots a free throw against Brooklyn Nets in Madison Square Garden's main arena last month. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Boston is set to host the world amateur champion’s next bout in May after Conlan made a successful debut at Madison Square Garden last Friday night, attracting a sell-out crowd of over 5,000 fans to the New York venue’s smaller Theatre arena.

Promoters Top Rank are already considering a move to The Garden’s 20,279-capacity arena for future St Patrick’s Weekend fight dates as they have the venue booked for the next five years.

Top Rank official Carl Moretti revealed that a move to the main arena, which holds over 20,000 for pro boxing, is already a possibility for 2018 should all go to plan over the next year for Conlan.

Conlan Ibarra Boxing Source: Frank Franklin II

Practicalities over fixture scheduling involving the New York Knicks and New York Rangers teams appear to be the promoters’ only concern.

“Right now the Theatre is on hold,” explained Moretti. “We believe we could go upstairs [to the main arena], but scheduling things have to be worked out like Knicks, Rangers and it has to be cleared.

“Hopefully the Garden knows this has to be priority and that they can clear the upstairs room and that’s what we can work on as the time goes by and everything,” added the Top Rank official, who was adamant that he has seen enough interest in Conlan to make him believe the 25-year-old could sell out MSG’s main arena.

“Yes,” insisted Moretti with an enthusiastic laugh. “Yeah, because he’ll be that much better as a fighter.

“We’ll have a bigger platform for television, so you’ll have a bigger all round card. That type of card is certainly bigger than the Theatre [is capable] of holding,” added the Top Rank official.

For now, they are eager to build on the hype that surrounded Conlan’s debut by staging his next bout in another Irish-American stronghold.

“Yes… it’ll be May 12 or 19 in Boston,” insisted Top Rank official Carl Moretti on the setting for Conlan’s next bout, dismissing speculation that the Irishman could feature on a California fight card next month.

Conlan Ibarra Boxing Source: AP/Press Association Images

“Now the next couple of fights will be in Boston next probably and it’s just [about] getting him better as a professional fighter and moving him along,” continued Top Rank’s VP of boxing operations.

The 25-year-old easily dispatched US journeyman Tim Ibarra in three rounds last weekend after being walked to the ring by Conor McGregor, with a wild Irish crowd creating a raucous atmosphere.

Conlan’s final bout of 2017 will take place in Ireland – although a date has yet to be confirmed.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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