Jason Cunningham set to face former world amateur champion Michael Conlan

Jason Cunningham
Jason Cunningham

Jason Cunningham has been handed a mouthwatering pre-Christmas present with the opportunity to face former world amateur champion Michael Conlan.

The Woodlands fighter will face Conlan at Manchester Arena on December 22 as the highly-rated Belfast featherweight makes his first appearance on English soil.

Conlan – brother of fellow fighter Jamie – will be taking part in his tenth fight after making his debut at Madison Square Garden Theatre, where he was walked to the ring by controversial MMA star Conor McGregor.

A superstar in Northern Ireland long before he made his professional debut due to his decorated amateur career, big things are expected of the 26-year-old.

But he is forecasting a tough test against two-time Commonwealth champion Cunningham.

"He is a good, experienced fighter who has been in with some top guys and I am looking forward to facing this challenge head on in only my tenth fight," Conlan said.

"It is something I am excited about and something where I believe I can show the best Michael Conlan.

"This is maybe the first time I will be facing someone who can speak proper English! The fans will know him and I rate Jason Cunningham, but I believe come fight night I will show my class and how good I actually am.

"I have been calling for stiffer opposition for a while now, although I know my fight in Belfast was a tough test (against Adeilson Dos Santos), but I quite easily outboxed that dude.

"The fact that Jason is known for giving it a go and not backing down - and with it being an opponent who will bring a fanbase with him - it will be a first for me. It is something I need to experience.

"There is no doubt in my mind that I will prepare strenuously because this dude will provide a tough challenge in a fight that he will believe he can win."

Cunningham claimed the Central Area super bantamweight title in his last fight, bouncing back from consecutive defeats against highly-rated prospects Reece Bellotti and Jordan Gill.