ESPN+ Boxing Preview: New York’s Favorite Irish Son Returns
By: Ste Rowen
Two years ago Mick Conlan drenched the Madison Square Garden Theater in an emerald wave when the Irishman headlined a New York event in his debut fight, to coincide with a freezing St Paddy’s day in the Big Apple.
That night, Conlan, currently 10-0 (6KOs) made easy work of Tim Ibarra inside three rounds and has since moved up a division to featherweight. Almost twenty-four months on, Conlan will, with help from fellow Irish favourite and Commonwealth gold medallist Paddy Barnes, once again make St Patrick’s day greener in New York than it would’ve been without him.
“I’m dealing with the expectation well. It’s prize fighting and I’m not in this game to earn buttons.’’ Conlan told the Guardian.
Chosen to spoil the show this Paddy’s Day is Ruben Garcia Hernandez, a 24-3-2 (10KOs) Mexican.
Ruben’s resume includes a loss to Nonito Donaire in 2017, unfortunately that inclusion is an exception to the rule. Ruben has never beaten or, other than the Filipino legend, faced anyone of note.
It’s a bad opponent for a boxer that comes with so much hype, but as long as Mick deals with Hernandez as well as, if not better, than he did Ibarra in 2017, the Irish-faithful will be more than jubilant.
Also on this weekend’s New York card is southpaw, welterweight gatekeeper, Luis Collazo, who takes on fellow keeper of the welterweight gate, Samuel Vargas.
Until the April bout between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan was announced, Collazo was feted to take on the much feared, WBO 147lb champion. But it wasn’t to be for Luis who claims he was more than ready for the juggernaut that is Crawford.
Instead this Sunday, Luis will step between the ropes with Samuel Vargas, who’s looking to regain a respectable ranking at 147lb.
‘‘This is my purpose. To be able to go out there and perform and to be able to try to inspire those who are kind of down on their life and just be able to do what I love and keep spreading inspiration.’’ Collazo, who’s pro record currently sits at 38-7 (20KOs), told ESPN, ‘‘There’s been some ups and downs, but this is the difference between passion and purpose.’’
Collazo is undefeated since his unanimous decision loss to Keith Thurman; unfortunately Luis has only fought twice in that time. A sixth round KO of Sammy Vazquez in 2017 and a mid-2018 decision over Florida native, Bryant Perrella – who recently scored a UD victory over Briedis Prescott
Vargas, 30-4-2 (14KOs), rebounded from his August decision loss to Amir Khan, with a dominant win over 27-0, Gabriel Pereiro. However, much like Collazo’s most recent opposition, 40-year-old Pereiro had never fought an opponent of note, or even professionally took a fight outside of his homeland of Argentina.
On the face of it, Collazo vs. Vargas looks more like two older welters putting it on the line for one last hopeful attempt at a world title shot, but it could turn into the best fight of Sunday’s undercard.