After a first year in the pro ranks when Michael headlined in New York and was co-main on massive events like the Pacquiao fight in Australia and the Loma-Rigo fight in New York, you’d wonder how he would top that.
Well, Michael has firmly set his sights on headline fights now, including his much-anticipated homecoming fight in Belfast, something he’s very excited about as he gears up towards title fights in 2018 –
“So il be back out on March 17th in the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on St Patrick’s Day. I might see if I can get another fight in, maybe in April before I headline back home in Belfast in the Odyssey. The fight back home is looking like the end of May or start of June, preferably June, but we’ll see how it goes.
“To be honest, I cant wait to get to fight back home. I’ve been on the road the past year or so, fighting around America and Australia, even before that I haven’t fought at home in a long time, so it’s something im really excited about. Ideally id love the Belfast fight to be for some kind of title so we’ll see how that pans out.
“It will be great to repay the support of all the travelling fans with a homecoming show. Everyone knows that our fans are the best in the world, especially in Belfast, it’s a real cauldron and they’ll cheer you on and support you win or lose. Obviously they’re going to be cheering me on when I get the win but!
“Looking ahead then I want to get out 3-4 more times by the end of the year, possibly in Boston, New York, maybe Chicago and Canada then. In terms of progression, I want my next fight to be an 8 rounder, maybe have 2-3 of them and move on to 10 rounders then.
“My personal goal is a world title next year and that’s what im working towards, obviously it’s in the hands of Top Rank who look after the matchmaking and promoting, but I feel im already at that level to challenge those elite guys at the top of the division.”
Looking at the featherweight division, it’s possibly the best in boxing at the moment, with any of the top 10 capable of beating each other on any given day. With names like – Santa Cruz, Russell Jnr, Mares, Selby, Valdez and hometown favourite Carl Frampton it really is a stacked division. But Michael says he’s more than ready to be in the mix with them –
“That’s it, it really is a stacked division with those guys you mentioned, but im ready to be a part of that. I believe that im at that level right now and it’s just a matter of time. I think if you want to become a great fighter you need a dance partner to mix it with, so we’re lucky that we have so many world-class fighters in the division to make these great fights.”
Looking closer to home and Michael says that boxing is really booming again and thinks were coming into a golden era for pro boxing in Ireland –
“And the thing is, with so many guys turning over, for the fans it makes for great domestic fights. Recently there was Jay Byrne fighting Crank Whitehouse, and I thought Crank was the favourite with the unbeaten record and Jay had a couple of close losses. But Jay’s a warrior and really comes to fight, so fair play to him on getting the win and upsetting the odds.
“Obviously for me, im open to fighting these guys for domestic titles and being involved in the scene. I mean you have Eric Donovan who’s a great fighter doing his thing, that could happen for an Irish title fight. Or there’s Marco McCullough, that fight could happen for a British or commonwealth title, so there’s some options there.
“I’ve said this before but I really think we’re coming into a golden age for pro boxing here in Ireland. There’s so many guys turning over and I think last year there was more new pro’s then the last 10 years combined, which can only be a good thing here for the sport to grow.
“Id also just like to thank my sponsors for the continued support – EJ Menswear, MSL Motor Group, Clune Construction.”
The future is certainly bright for the Falls Road native, and with Michael being one of boxings top prospects and with the backing of Top Rank, there’s no reason why he cant go on to lead the way as part of Ireland’s golden era for pro boxing.