The Russian features on the Belfast fighter’s St Patrick’s Day undercard and will fight at Madison Square Garden Theater as Top Rank continue to marinate the Rio Revenge bout.
The U.S. promotional giant signed Conlan in the aftermath of their infamous fight in Brazil in 2016, instantly marking him out as a star of their stable. Nikitin would be added a year later with the express purpose as being an opponent for the Irish starlet
The pair would share a card in Las Vegas back in October and, in New York, Nikitin will fight Juan Tapia [8(3)-2(0)] over six rounds while Conlan faces a 10-round featherweight tilt against Ruben Garcia Hernandez [24(10)-3(1)-2].
The L.A.-based Russian suggests the repeat of their controversial Olympic quarter final is now within touching distance and will play out next should both come through next weekend unscathed.
The plan is for the pair to renew acquaintances at the Féile an Phobail in West Belfast this August and, if that is the case, fellow Top Rank puncher Nikitin claims he will prove he was and is better than Conlan.
“The fight I want after I take care of business on March 17th is Michael Conlan,” Nikitin said.
“He wants revenge, and I want to show everyone that I was, and still am, the superior fighter. I respect Michael and his team. While there is no bad blood outside the ring, we have unfinished business inside the ring.”
Similarly, Conlan holds no personal grudge towards the Egis Klimas-managed Nikitin – who also defeated him at the 2013 Worlds.
The pair have been cordial and friendly since becoming promotional stablemates but the events in Rio in 2016 are a wrong that still need righting for the London-based Conlan.
Speaking about his future foe appearing on the same card as him Conlan said “Nikitin is a rival from the 2016 Olympics and clearly someone who I look forward to fighting in the professional ranks.”
“This is the second time we’ve fought on the same card, and I look forward to seeing his progress as a professional.”
While Nikitin apparently wants it next, the fact Féile fight date is five months away could mean there is an interim bout for both.