Michael Conlan wants to be more like Carl Frampton than Conor McGregor as he prepares for his seventh professional fight on the Jorge Linares-Vasiliy Lomachenko undercard at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Conlan (6-0, 5 KOs), 26, faces Spain's Ibon Larrinaga (10-1, 2 KOs) in New York and then has his first pro fight in his home country against Brazilian Adeilson Dos Santos at the SSE Arena, Belfast, on June 30. Both cards will be streamed on ESPN+.
Conlan created headlines at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with his middle finger salute to boxing judges following his defeat to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin.
Controversial mixed martial arts fighter McGregor, from Dublin, then walked Conlan to the ring on his debut at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick's Day last year. But Conlan insists he should not be compared to McGregor and instead wants to follow in the footsteps of two-weight world boxing champion Frampton.
"Connor McGregor has played a huge part for Irish sport and people want to see who the next Connor McGregor is," Conlan told ESPN. "People have seen the Rio rant and they have seen that this could be the next Connor McGregor.
"Personally I think we are both polar opposites. Yes we are both confident but I think I would carry myself with a bit more humility. For me to be able to grab the public's imagination like Carl did would be something I've always wanted to do.
"It's weird for me that I've always known, not in an arrogant or cocky way, but I've always known where I'm going to be and what I've been able to do and so far I have achieved it.
"I know I will be able to do it and I hope I can emulate Carl and do for Belfast what he has done for Belfast and carry the torch. The atmosphere in Belfast for boxing is special and if I can carry that same sort of atmosphere and vibe into Belfast and Irish boxing I will be happy.
"I think it's going to be like ships passing in the night, we won't fight each other. Before years ago I used to call Carl out and stuff but I was just young and looking back it was just stupid.
"This guy is an absolute icon where I am from and someone I look up to, seeing what he's doing. "He's a very down to earth guy and I hope I can achieve half of what he has achieved because he has done so much."
Conlan, who won an Olympic bronze medal in 2012, signed with American promoter Top Rank after the 2016 Olympics and is now hoping for a rematch with Nikitin as well as a future fight with American Shakur Stevenson (6-0, 3 KOs), from New Jersey, who won silver in Rio. Both Stevenson and Nikitin are also with Top Rank.
"Stevenson, it's a natural fight, but the one I really want is Nikitin," Conlan told ESPN. "Nikitin messaged me on Instagram the other day, sent me a picture of the article saying he has signed with Top Rank and saying something in Russian like 'I am your friend'.
"I didn't reply to it, I have no ill feeling towards him personally, it wasn't his fault and he didn't profit from it and he's probably got more stick than he should have.
"He's the fella I want and it's very marketable. Stevenson has good boxing skills and is a smart fighter, but he doesn't have the power to trouble me. I hope to have Russian on St Patrick's Day next year either in the big room in the Garden or Belfast."