Top Rank finalizes Conlan-Preciado undercard


Top Rank has finalized the undercard for popular Irish featherweight Michael Conlan’s annual St. Patrick’s Day bout on March 17 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Before Conlan takes on Belmar Preciado and junior lightweight Mikaela Mayer fights Melissa Hernandez on the main card of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (main card at 8 p.m. ET, preliminary bouts beginning at 5 p.m. ET) several prospects will be in display, Top Rank announced on Friday.

Junior welterweight Josue Vargas (16-1, 9 KOs), 21, of Bronx, New York, will defend his regional belt against Salvador Briceno (17-5, 11 KOs), 25, of Mexico, in a 10-rounder. Vargas has won 10 fights in a row since suffering his lone loss by disqualification in 2016.

“I’m excited to be fighting in my hometown on such a stacked card,” Vargas said. “It’s an honor to defend my belt in front of my friends, family and biggest supporters. I can’t wait for another spectacular fight night and to put on a show for everyone who will be watching on ESPN+.”

Junior welterweight Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, will face one-time top prospect Dannie Williams (24-3, 18 KOs), 35, of St. Louis, in an eight-rounder. Rodriguez fought three times in the last five months of 2019 after nearly two years out of the ring because of injuries. Williams did not box from 2013 to 2019 because of a prison sentence. He has won two fights since returning.

Highly touted welterweight Paddy Donovan (3-0, 2 KOs), 21, a 13-time Irish national amateur champion, who is managed by former middleweight world titlist Andy Lee, will make his United States debut in a six-rounder against Gregory Young (4-3, 1 KO), 27, of Hoover, Alabama.

“I can’t wait for my U.S. debut,” Donovan said. “I learned so much from training alongside Tyson Fury recently,” Donovan said. “I’m taking that experience into this fight. Conlan’s St. Patrick’s Day cards are always exciting, and I’m happy to be part of the festivities.”

Also on the card:

• Junior lightweight Christopher Zavala (6-0, 3 KOs), 20, of Long Beach, California, will face Rennard Oliver (7-2-3, 0 KOs), 25, of New Orleans, in a six-round bout.

• Lightweight Feargal McCrory (11-0, 5 KOs), a 27-year-old Irish southpaw, will make his U.S. debut against Juan Tapia (9-3, 3 KOs), 26, of Brownsville, Texas, in a six-rounder. Tapia went the eight-round distance in 2018 with Shakur Stevenson, who last year won a featherweight world title.

• Light heavyweight Matthew Tinker (2-0, 2 KOs), 28, of England, will square off with Esai Herrera (2-1, 1 KO), 28, of Austin, Texas, in a four-round fight.

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