Mick Conlan rose to prominence as part of the Irish squad that won medals at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. The 28-year-old made headlines when he lost controversially to Russian Vladimir Nikitin in Rio 2016.
Firstly, Conlan was expected to add to his medal haul of Olympic Bronze, World, European and Commonwealth Gold. But in the aftermath, he claimed the AIBA judges were corrupt.
Some of the judges and referees were subsequently dropped from the competition.
Late last year, Belfast man Conlan finally got the chance of revenge against Nikitin, beating the Russian by unanimous decision.
In an exclusive interview with World Boxing News, Conlan is quick to say he has nothing against the Russian himself.
“Listen, it was fantastic,” Conlan told WBN. “As I’ve said previously, I never had bad blood with Vladimir personally. It was the judges in Rio but the significance of the fight and having it especially in the Garden. It’s the place where I restarted my boxing career.
“Starting off in the Garden and finishing off that story in the Garden was special. To do it in New York, it’s certainly a home for me. It was a great night, a special feeling.”
With St Patrick’s Day fast approaching, Conlan finds himself booked back for New York fighting once more.
“The Garden has booked me for five years,” explains Conlan. “So this is year number four on St Patrick’s Day now. I’m excited, it’s going to be a great night of boxing, as it has been and always will be for me.
“It’s my home from home. St Patrick’s Day in New York, full of Irish, the folk go crazy. I’m delighted and really looking forward to it.”
Lined up for Conlan is the 31-year-old Colombian, Belmar Preciado who has a record of 20-2-1 with 13 knockouts.
“I know a good bit about him (Preciado) now,” Conlan tells me. “I’ve watched a bit of him. He’s aggressive and he has a good few wins.
“He is no slouch. He is someone who is coming to upset the apple cart and take my head off. And he is a puncher with a good knock out ratio. He will be looking to knock me out. I’m excited about it.
“I believe the guy will come and try to take my head off. From what you see of him in the past and the fighters he has faced, that’s his style, that’s what he does.”
Conlan is not looking too far ahead of this fight but is expecting to fight in Ireland again this year.
“I want to get this one out of the way first. I can’t really think of what’s next but I do know that there is something lined up in Ireland next.
“I’m really looking forward to that but I need my focus on this.”
Mick Kane is a Staff Writer to World Boxing News. Follow Mick on Twitter @MickKaneMMA