Highly-touted bantamweight Michael Conlan completed what the Irishman labelled "a debut I have dreamed of" with a stoppage victory over Tim Ibarra here at Madison Square Garden, carried by an uproarious green wave of support.
The event was super-charged with compatriot and Ultimate Fighting Championship star Conor McGregor cheerleading ringside. It was a St Patrick's Day fight night which will live long in the memory.
Post-fight, Conlan's irascible compatriot McGregor stapled his intent with a rant at the boxing media, refusing to answer any questions but delivering a diatribe at the writers and broadcasters. He proclaimed that he would "shock the world" with his proposed cross-code boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr, the richest boxer in history, an event estimated to be worth 500 million US dollars. It was short, sharp, and as vicious as McGregor's famed left hand.
"Watch me take over boxing, trust me on that," barked McGregor, dressed in a brown fur coat. "Watch me step in and shock the whole damn world. I'm 28, a confident m----r f----r, long, rangy, dangerous with both hands. Believe me, I'm going to step in there and knock out Floyd (Mayweather) and you're all going to eat your words. I am boxing."
McGregor might have stolen the headlines, but he certainly added to the ambience at Conlan's first professional foray. The amateur star, who hit the news last year with his double middle finger salute to the judges at the Olympic Games in Rio. A clear favourite for a gold medal in Rio, Conlan fell victim to some dubious judging.
Conlan set about 8-fight novice Ibarra, raw and reckless in stopping his foe in the third round of a scheduled 6-round fight, switching from orthodox to the southpaw stance to finish Ibarra with a barrage of shots after trapping the night's fall guy against the ropes.
“This meant a lot to me,” said Conlan after the fight. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget this. This is the debut I have dreamed of since I was 12 years old." Conlan revealed ambitions to become a three-division world champion.
"You could not make this up, it’s a fairytale debut," Matthew Macklin, Conlan's manager, told Telegraph Sport.
"The American media say that there has not been this much hype and excitement for an amateur making his professional debut since Oscar De La Hoya in 1992. And we know what kind of career he went on to have. Conor McGregor woke up the sleeping giant of Irish fight fans, and the Irish diaspora is one of the biggest in the world. The US is a very powerful market for Irish sporting success stories. It was great to have McGregor here. He's probably the biggest star in combat sports outside Mayweather."
— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) March 18, 2017
Promoter Bob Arum, who signed Conlan, said that he had been impressed with Conlan's attitude for berating the judges when he believed he was robbed of a medal at the Rio Olympics.
"He's an extremely exciting prospect, and he has so much going for him. He stood up for himself, he spoke out about the politics of the amateur code. That showed balls. I think his actions resonated with the public, endeared him to them. We believe he is going to be very very good indeed."
Arum added that the McGregor-Mayweather fight was "easy money" for Mayweather but believes that the mixed martial arts star should prove himself against other opponents before facing the unbeaten boxer with a record of 49-0, considered the best boxer of this generation.
"It's easy money," said Arum. "If Conor McGregor wants to fight any of my fighters, I'll do it, and I'll even do winner takes all."