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Conlan to continue Madison Square Garden tradition in clash with Colombian

The unbeaten Irish featherweight will face Belmar Preciado in front of a sea of green at MSG on Tuesday, 17 March.

Michael Conlan.
Michael Conlan.
Image: Emily Harney/INPHO

IRISH FEATHERWEIGHT AND former amateur world champion Michael Conlan will take to the ring at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater for the fourth straight year when he faces Colombia’s Belmar Preciado in a 10-rounder on St Patrick’s Day.

WBO number-one ranked challenger Conlan [13-0, 7KOs] and Preciado [20-2-1, 13KOs] will square off on a Tuesday night in the Big Apple, three days after the Belfast man’s 2016 Olympic rival Shakur Stevenson [13-0, 7KOs] defends his WBO featherweight world title against Miguel ‘Escorpión’ Marriaga [29-3, 25KOs] at the same venue.

Conlan, 28, and Stevenson, 22, would have faced each other in the bantamweight semi-finals at Rio 2016 had the Falls Road fighter not been controversially ousted by Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, upon whom he exacted revenge in the pro ranks seven weeks ago.

Victory for Conlan on Paddy’s Day could lead to a title shot against Stevenson or, perhaps more likely, a shot at the vacant title in his hometown this summer should Stevenson successfully defend his belt and move up in weight as has been mooted.

“I’m honoured to return to the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, and fight for the fourth straight St Patrick’s Day,” Conlan said. “I know how tough Preciado is, but this fight is a great test as I continue on my path towards becoming a world champion.

“Fighting in New York City is very special for me. The fans have been very supportive right from the beginning at my pro debut on St Patrick’s Day in 2017, and I look forward to putting on another tremendous show for them this year.”

The 31-year-old Preciado, however, who boasts a decent CV, warned he won’t be flying up to New York to contribute to the Irish party, but rather to spoil it in front of a sea of green at MSG.

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“The fans will be there to see Conlan, but mark my words, they will remember me,” Preciado said. “I am more than just another ‘opponent.’ When I win, I won’t be surprised. I am prepared for a hard 10 rounds.”

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