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Conlan to fight in Falls Park during Féile

ON HOME GROUND: West Belfast boxer Michael Conlan will be fighting in the Falls Park ON HOME GROUND: West Belfast boxer Michael Conlan will be fighting in the Falls Park
By David Mohan

THE dream homecoming is now a reality for Michael Conlan as yesterday, it was confirmed he will top the bill at Féile an Phobail on what promises to be a special night for the West Belfast man.

Saturday, August 3 is the date when the former amateur world champion steps through the ropes in his “back garden” in a major fight.

An appearance at Féile has long been mooted with Conlan’s management team, MTK Global, and promoters, Top Rank, keen to make it happen along with Féile organisers.

With US broadcast giant ESPN also on board and the logistics worked out, the event got the green light with over 12,000 expected to flock to the new outdoor events space at the Falls Park that will showcase Conlan and a host of other local talent in what will be a unique event.

“I’m excited as it’s going to be an exciting evening of boxing – it’s going to be unreal,” the 27 year-old confirmed.

“I’m a kid from West Belfast, so this is just like fighting in my back garden. The whole of Belfast, Ireland and the world is going to get to see a massive event and me in a big fight.”

With the opponent and ticket details expected to be revealed at a press conference next week, excitement is already building ahead of the homecoming for one of West Belfast’s favourite sons.

Conlan burst onto the world stage at the 2012 London Olympics when he secured a bronze medal before adding Commonwealth gold in 2014. The following year was to be even better after winning gold and named ‘best boxer’ at the European Championships, he went onto take the gold at the World Championships, becoming the only Irish male to do so.

A huge favourite going to the Rio Olympics in 2016, his dreams of completing the set of gold medals at the major competitions were ended at the quarter-final stage when a shocking decision went the way of Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin – now a target for Conlan as a professional.

Still, this decision and his impassioned reaction to what is widely accepted at one of Olympic boxing’s great robberies didn’t deter American promotional giant, Bob Arum and his Top Rank organisation from snapping up the Cavendish Street native who has won all 11 of his professional fights to date, picking up the WBO Inter-Continental featherweight title along with way.

Last summer, he returned to score a points win over Adeilson Dos Santos at the SSE Arena, but the ambition was always to fight in the Falls Park and on August 3 he will get his wish.

“This is the 31st year for Féile and it’s always a fantastic event every year,” he added.

“For me to be a part of a community event like this – I’m honoured. I really am proud of this.

“I go to Féile events every year and I’m a big fan of it, so to be one of the headline acts at Féile is amazing. I’m delighted and really excited about this.”

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