Irish boxing fans all over the world will be booking their flights over to Arizona next month as Michael Conlan prepares to make his fourth professional in 2017.
The Olympian is a second-generation boxer from the Conlan family tree, with elder brother Jamie also flying the flag high with world title aspirations.
The 25-year-old insisted his sibling has had a significant impact.
“He’s one of the biggest reasons I got into the sport of boxing. I always wanted to be like my big brother growing up, he was one of the biggest influences and main reasons I stayed in boxing,” Conlan exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I could have easily got into other sports growing up, but having a big brother who was always in the sport helped me hugely. If I was ever caught doing anything wrong he’d have given me a few slaps,” he laughed.
The Irish sensation is eyeing two more outings after his next fight on September 22 at the Tucson Convention Centre. One of those will be on the undercard of stable-mate and Ukrainian superstar Vasyl Lomachenko.
Conlan admitted he’ss mesmerised by the two-weight world champion, in and out the ring, and has ranked him as the world’s best.
“It’s unbelievable, he’s a guy who I look up to. I’m in awe of him when I watch him. He’s a step ahead of the rest in the game,” said Conlan.
“Myself, I put him as pound for pound number one, he’s does things that no other fight does and if he was a heavyweight then he’d beat any heavyweight.
“I don’t know who could beat him, the only person who could chase him for the pound for pound number one would be Andre Ward.
“He was doing all maths and counting s***, I was thinking, ‘I wanna be like him’ – he could be years ahead of any other fighter.
“His team know how to put on strategies and a lot of things you wouldn’t think has to do with boxing but they train the brain. Every fighter should, I do as I read whereas half of boxers don’t read but I’m no mathematician though,” he added.
As well as being in the hands of Top Rank and promoting mogul Bob Arum, the super-bantamweight is also with MTK Global.
The Olympian paid a glowing tribute to manager and Birmingham legend Matthew Macklin.
“What a guy,” he said of ‘Mack the Knife’. “I prefer having Matt and MTK as my manager than anybody else in the world.
“They look after you and Matt knows the game. He should have had a world title and never got it, he’s a guy who I look up to and fought everybody.
“He knows the business side too, he self-managed a lot of career himself that’s why I feel like I’m in good hands,” Conlan concluded.
Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95