IT’S a Bronx derby of sorts — by way of Macroom and Puerto Rico.
Cork’s Noel Murphy meets Josue 'The Prodigy' Vargas in an all southpaw battle for vacant North American super lightweight title at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
rounds on the Michael Conlan v Vladimir Nikitin and Terrence Crawford v Egidijus Kavalisuskas undercard.
Unbeaten Conlan faces Nikitin in a repeat of their controversial Rio 2016 quarter-final which the Russian feather won. All 36 refs and judges were suspended following other questionable decisions at the Olympiad and boxing almost lost its Olympic status.
Puerto Rico-born Vargas, who has won 15 of his 16 outings, fights out of the Bronx, as did Murphy when he lived in New York.
The 25-year-old Rebel lefty has been training under coach and manager Tom Power and Kevin Crowley in Macroom and he is upbeat.
“I think it is going to be a brilliant fight as our styles suit each other,” said Murphy who has won 14 of his 16, one draw and a loss.
“We trained and sparred a few years back, so we know each other. I’m confident and training has been top class.
“It’s fantastic to be fighting on such a big card with Mick Conlan and Terence Crawford.
Vargas expects to have lots of support, but with Murphy and Conlan on the promotion, the iconic boxing venue will have plenty of Irish fight fans.
“I always dreamed of fighting at Madison Square Garden in front of my supporters from New York and Puerto Rico, it gives me goosebumps,” Vargas said.
“I can’t wait to perform. It’s the big one,” added the Top Rank USA signing.
“Noel is ready for road,” said Power, who also works Christina Desmond’s (Murphy’s fellow Macroom southpaw) corner.