After weeks of speculation as to where his future would lie, Michael Conlan has confirmed that he has turned professional with Top Rank Promotions in the States.
The 24-year-old (former) amateur World bantamweight champion inks with Manny Pacquiao's promotional company - one of the 'big two' Stateside, in a hugely lucrative move for he and his young family.
It had been suggested that Floyd Mayweather was angling for Conlan's signing by inviting the two-time Irish Olympian to attend a Mayweather Promotions card in Las Vegas earlier this week, but Conlan has instead turned to an old adversary in Bob Arum, and inked with Top Rank in a move which will likely see him fight in front of massive audiences on Showtime in the USA.
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) September 19, 2016
— Bob Arum (@BobArum) September 19, 2016
— Carl Moretti (@CarlMoretti) September 19, 2016
The Belfast icon joins some extremely prestigious company; fighters previously promoted by Top Rank include Muhammad Ali, Alexis Argüello, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Durán, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Marvin Hagler, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, Erik Morales, Thomas Hearns, Paulie Ayala, Iran Barkley, Michael Carbajal, Larry Holmes, Ray Mancini and James Toney.
Interestingly, they also promote former Paddy Barnes rival Zou Shiming of China.
Top Rank were also the promotional masterminds behind such superfights as Hagler vs Leonard, Chavez vs De La Hoya, Holyfield vs Foreman, Foreman vs Moorer, Leonard vs Hearns, Hagler vs Hearns, Ali vs Frazier II and both of Muhammad Ali's clashes with Michael Spinks. The Vegas-based company also promoted George Foreman's quest to become the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history - a comeback which culminated in his knockout of Michael Moore in 1995.
Though the figures are undisclosed, Conlan's move could potentially the biggest transatlantic move in Irish boxing history, and also the most lucrative signing for any Irish fighter ever.
Unfortunately for Irish boxing fans, Top Rank's bitter rivalry with Golden Boy Promotions means we won't get to see Conlan join his fellow Ulsterman Jason Quigley on a pro card, but the latter will surely be delighted that his old pal is set to join him in the American south-west.
Turns out there's a lot to be said for repeatedly roaring 'fuck' on RTÉ - oh, and also being an obscenely talented champion of the world at your chosen craft.
More to follow.