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Press Conf Quotes: Michael Conlan Ready for Another St. Patrick’s Day Garden Party

For the third consecutive year, Michael “Mick” Conlan is ready to crash the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden for a St. Patrick’s Day extravaganza.

Conlan (10-0, 7 KOs) will defend his WBO Intercontinental featherweight strap against Ruben Garcia Hernandez (24-3-2, 10 KOs) on Sunday in a 10-rounder in the special attraction. In the welterweight main event, Brooklyn native and former welterweight world champion Luis Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs) will face Samuel Vargas (30-4-2, 14 KOs) in a 10-rounder. And, in a six-round bantamweight bout with some Irish flare, two-time Irish Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes (5-1, 1 KO) will fight Oscar Mojica (11-5-1, 1 KO).

Conlan-Hernandez, Collazo-Vargas, and Barnes-Mojica will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The undercard, including appearances by top prospects Joseph Adorno, Josue Vargas, John Bauza, Lee Reeves, and former Conlan Olympic nemesis Vladimir Nikitin will stream on ESPN+ starting at 3 p.m. ET.

At the final press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Michael Conlan

“It means the world for me to be fighting at Madison Square Garden, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a special day for me and my country. For me to come here and represent and kind of shine the light for Irish people on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s very, very important.”

“I think this is a big year for me. I want this to be my breakout year. Each fight now is very, very important. Every fight is more important than the last. I feel this year could set me up for a huge world title fight next year, or maybe even later this year, which would be fantastic. I feel my progress has been fantastic over the last four years, so I’ve been steadily going up {the rankings}.”

“St. Patrick’s Day is normally a crazy day, but when you have an Irish guy fighting at Madison Square Garden, it makes it even more special.”

Ruben Garcia Hernandez

“I feel very happy for the opportunity. I have never fought here before. I know it’s a big opportunity, and I’m going to give it my all.”

“We know it’s going to be a tough challenge because a lot of people are going to be supporting him. I’m not going to be thinking about that. In the ring, I’m just going to focus on beating him and winning the fight.”

Luis Collazo

In response to Vargas saying this will be an “easy” fight

“He’s going to see ‘easy’ on Sunday. I’m not one to talk much, but when I get in that ring, I’m totally a different character. I’m a straight beast. Whether {it’s in} victory or defeat, I’m coming. I’m bringing it.”

On his motivation at this point of his career

“I believe I’m living my purpose right now. The things I’ve been through in boxing, a lot of fighters wouldn’t deal with. It fuels my passion. I’ve had some rough roads. You know what, at the end of the day, this is what I was called to do. I love it. I just like inspiring those that always have been counted out, like myself. I’m still able to do it and perform at my best and give the fans what they want, which is excitement.”

“This fight is first. This is what I’m focused first on. I’ll get this victory and take it from there.”

Samuel Vargas

“Luis Collazo is a guy who has been in there with veterans, Shane Mosley, a lot of world champions. He brings a lot to the table, a lot of experience, and we gotta be a cautious, smart, efficient fighter, and do what we do best.”

“I want to make a statement. I’ve been in there before with great world champions. This time around, I feel like I’ve learned so much being in the ring. This camp has been amazing in LA. I’m really looking forward to making a statement and winning easily.”

Paddy Barnes

“I’m so overwhelmed that I’m getting a chance to fight in this great arena. Two months ago, I was slated to fight in the UK on the 8th of March. Then I got a call to say I was fighting on this bill, and I was overwhelmed. I’m still pinching myself, and I can’t wait for the opportunity.”

“We lost our last fight, which was for the WBC {flyweight} world title. I’m now fighting on ESPN+, which is a massive platform to showcase my skills. I’m sure all the fans will get behind me because my style is all action. It’s going to be a good night.”

ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET

Michael Conlan vs. Ruben Garcia Hernandez, 10 rounds, Conlan’s WBO Intercontinental featherweight title

Luis Collazo vs. Samuel Vargas, 10 rounds, welterweight

Paddy Barnes vs. Oscar Mojica, 6 rounds, bantamweight

ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET

Josue Vargas vs. Adriano Ramirez, 8 rounds, super lightweight

John Bauza vs. Ricardo Maldonado, 6 rounds, super lightweight

Vladimir Nikitin vs. Juan Tapia, 6 rounds, featherweight

Joseph Adorno. vs. Victor Rosas, 6 rounds, lightweight

Lee Reeves vs. Eduardo Torres, 4 rounds, super lightweight

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