The two time Olympian is set to fight during the Féile at Falls Park in August – with Saturday the 3rd being the date put forward – and is confident Rio nemesis Vladimir Nikitin [3(0)-0] will man the opposite corner.
The Russian has been proposed as a potential 2019 opponent for over a year and it’s certainly a fight Conlan wants – not to mention Nikitin himself.
Top Rank signed Nikitin with the express purpose of building him as a Conlan opponent, lining him up with top manager Egis Klimas and the Komi slugger has racked up three wins so far – although has been uninspiring in doing so.
Indeed, there have been suggestions ESPN were blind to the narrative and didn’t think Conlan’s stablemate had a record worthy of topping a bill.
In truth ,there would be no better opponent in terms of generating interest in Ireland than Nikitin at this stage in the Adam Booth-trained fighter’s career and it seems the major U.S. network may have finally seen sense.
Conlan looks likely to box in America in the interim but now expects to face the Russian in his home town in August.
“It’s not 100 per cent yet – against Vladimir Nikitin in the Féile,” he explained to the Irish News.
“We’re 90 per cent there now. It looks like that’s the one for the summer and August 3rd will be the date.”
“It’s definitely the one I want and I know Nikitin wants it, big time, and Top Rank want it so it’s all about getting it over the line.”
“It’s the one I want, it’ll be a dream come true when it gets done and I’ll be walking into the Falls Park for the first big, big fight of my career in Belfast. It’ll be a special one and it’s the fight I’m gunning for.”
“Hopefully it gets over the line.”
Conlan has stated his intention to move down to super bantamweight, with Top Rank offering a path to a title shot at 122lbs before the end of the year.
The Falls fighter will gradually move down towards the class and, such is his standing in a match-up, the Nikitin fight could take place at super bantam if the Russian can make the weight – although a brief return to featherweight should be no issue either such is the loaded narrative of the rematch.