Michael Conlan of Ireland has signed a deal with Top Rank to turn professional, following his memorable upset loss at the Rio Olympics, which turned into a controversy for several reasons.
Conlan, 24, was upset by Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the quarterfinals in Rio, after entering the games as the top seed at bantamweight. He immediately turned sour, throwing up middle fingers at the judges and other AIBA officials while in the ring, and gave a profanity-laced interview to Irish television right after the bout.
Conlan is definitely a talent, and there was good reason he was the top seed and considered a medal favorite. And his criticism of AIBA was certainly not without cause; almost everyone watching seemed to feel Conlan had won the fight. Furthermore, AIBA has a history of poor officiating and questionable decisions, and plenty of smoke regarding corruption. And as the saying goes, where there’s smoke, and so on.
Anyway, it’s a good signing for Top Rank. Conlan shouldn’t need a ton of time to adjust to the pro game. Whether or not he has top level potential remains to be seen, but he should be a good money draw at least in the short term both at home in Ireland and in the northeastern United States.