Belfast boxer Michael Conlan joins Top Rank for professional career

Michael Conlan
Conlan's controversial defeat completed an awful Olympics for the Ireland boxing team

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan has entered the professional ranks after announcing that he has joined American based promoter Top Rank Boxing.

The Irish bantamweight revealed the move on Monday night, the news coming on the same day that Paddy Barnes said he would be turning pro with MGM.

Top Rank is run by US promoter Bob Arum and has world champion Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas on its books.

Conlan is a world amateur champion and won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.

He made clear his intention to leave the amateur ranks after suffering a controversial defeat by Russian Vladimir Nikitin in the Olympic quarter-finals in Rio last month.

Conlan looked to have won the bout but lost out on a unanimous points decision.

"This is the best deal I could ever have asked for. It's massive and I'm very proud to be handed the biggest contract ever for an Irish boxer turning professional," Conlan told BBC Radio Ulster.

"It's very likely that my professional debut will be at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day next year and that would be a dream come true.

"I'm giving myself three years maximum to be a world champion but my promoters have the best matchmakers in the business and I will let them run the show."

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