CORK welterweight Noel Murphy will make his Madison Square Garden debut on December 14.
The Macroom man meets Josue ‘The Prodigy’ Vargas of the Bronx in an all southpaw battle on the Terence Crawford versus Egidijus Kavaliauskas undercard at the iconic boxing venue.
Murphy, who has won 14, drawn 1 and lost 1 of his 16 outings, is guaranteed plenty of Irish support in the Big Apple as Michael Conlan faces Vladimir Nikitin in one of the headline bouts. The meeting is a repeat of their highly controversial Rio 2016 quarter-final which the Russian was adjudged to have won.
All 36 refs and judges in Rio were suspended following that and other controversial decisions at the 31st Olympiad and the International Boxing Association were subsequently banned from any involvement with Tokyo 2020.
Belfast-born Conlan has vowed to right a wrong and that Nikitin will not get past the seventh round in the grudge match.
Vargas, meantime, has won 14 of his 15 outings. The Puerto Rican, who was with Mayweather Promotions but is now with Top Rank USA, is slated to meet Johnny Rodriquez in Philadelphia this weekend and Murphy’s manager Kevin Crowley hopes he doesn’t get injured.
“Noely’s eyes lit up when he was offered the fight and he’ll have a lot of fans Irish fans behind him with Michael meeting Nikitin on the card,” he said.
“Noely is going in as the underdog but that will bring the best out of him. We’re confident. He’s moving back down to light-welter for his first fight at the Garden. The size of the crowd won’t bother him, he’ll have plenty of support anyway. His opponent is fighting this weekend so let’s hope he comes through that without any injuries.”
Murphy is training in Cork under coach Tom Power ahead of the 10-rounder with 21-year-old Vargas.
The 25-year-old Leesider recorded two wins in Boston and Cork this year over John Joyce and Adam Mate ahead of what is probably the biggest fight of his pro career.