By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – It had been assumed that Irish featherweight prospect Michael Conlan would return to The Theater at Madison Square Garden to fight on St. Patrick’s Day next year.
Conlan (4-0, 4 KOs), a 2016 Olympian from Belfast, Northern Ireland, made his pro debut before a capacity crowd at The Theater last St. Patrick’s Day. He’ll fight there again Saturday night, when he’ll take on Argentina’s Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round encounter ESPN will televise as part of the Vasyl Lomachenko-Guillermo Rigondeaux undercard (9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST).
What was not known until Thursday morning was that Top Rank’s next St. Patrick’s Day card will be headlined by a WBC 140-pound championship match that’ll pit Jose Ramirez against Amir Imam. Promoter Bob Arum made that announcement during a press conference for the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux card at Madison Square Garden.
“Not only is it St. Patrick’s Day and Mick Conlan will be on the card,” Arum said, “but it’s gonna be a really interesting card because there’ll be a vacant 140-pound championship – my fighter, Top Rank’s fighter, Jose Ramirez, young kid from Fresno, against, listen to this, Don King’s fighter, Amir Imam. So it’ll be Arum and King going at each other in the Mecca of Boxing. Don’t miss it!”
Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs), of Avenal, California, and Imam (21-1, 18 KOs), of Albany, New York, solidified their fight for the vacant WBC super lightweight championship by winning their respective fights November 11 in Fresno, California.
The 25-year-old Ramirez knocked out previously unbeaten Mike Reed (23-1, 12 KOs), of Waldorf, Maryland, in the second round of the main event that night at Fresno State University’s Save Mart Center. On the undercard, Imam stopped Johnny Garcia (19-6-1, 11 KOs), of Holland, Michigan, after four rounds.
Imam is ranked No. 1 by the WBC at 140 pounds, two spots ahead of Ramirez. Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) vacated the WBC 140-pound championship, along with the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, when he decided to move up to welterweight earlier this year.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.