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Published: 09:14 | 7/12/17

Conlan eyeing world's best in New York

Michael Conlan admits he will have one eye on Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux when he fights in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

The Belfast fighter is taking on Argentinean Luis Fernando Molina on the undercard of the eagerly-awaited WBO title showdown between Rigondeaux and Lomachenko, which headlines the event live on Box Nation on the eir Sport pack on Sunday morning from 02.00.

While the unbeaten 26-year-old is expected to dismiss his opponent with a minimum of fuss, the main event is one which sees two of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet go head-to-head.

The Irishman is highly aware of the skills of both fighters but he admits that he'll be watching them closely in New York as he anticipates taking them on for world title belts in the years to come.

“I think both Rigo and Lomachenko are unbelievable fighters,” he said. “I’ve looked up to them my whole amateur career and now obviously in my professional career.

“But one day soon I expect to be fighting one of them, so I wouldn’t feel star stuck about being on the bill or anything like that.

“I’m fighting on the bill with two of the greatest amateurs to ever live and potentially two Hall of Fame pros as well so it is exciting – but I always have the end goal in mind as well, which is that one of them could be a future opponent.

“I consider this an opportunity to see where I’m at and where they’re at and I’ll take it from there. I’m just watching and learning because I know they’re ahead of me, but I know it’s not going to be too long before I get to that stage."

At a pre-fight press conference on Wednesday, Conlan laughed off the suggestion that he might 'call-out' either fighter at the event.

“I’m not going to be offending anyone or anything like that,” he said. “There’s no point because a fight against either one of them is still obviously a bit away and there’s no point in me calling them out or anything like that. They’re focused on their fights and they won’t be bothered with what I’m saying. I won’t be doing any crazy s**t!”

Conlan's older brother Jamie, who recently lost for the first time in his career when he was outclassed by the outstanding IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines, was announced as MTK Global's (the promotional company who manage his brother and many others) Professional Development Coordinator and he believes Michael is capable of reaching the level of Saturday night's headline acts.

“He needs time, he really needs time before that,” Jamie said. “He has a lot of learning to do. These two are the crème de la crème of pure boxing ability and two of the best we’ve seen in a few decades at least.

“To be at that level would be something else, but he’s 100 per cent certainly capable of reaching the elite level that these guys are at.”

Conlan's fight against Luis Fernando Molina takes place on the undercard of the Rigondeaux-Lomachenko event, live on the eir Sport pack on Box Nation on Sunday morning from 02.00

Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan 

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