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Better in every way – Conlan hails superior Nikitin replacement

Michael Conlan [11(6)-0] is content in the knowledge he faces an opponent that can help him shape a positive future rather a foe that is all about his past on August 3. 

The World Championships gold medal winner was due to face Olympic 2016 foe Vladimir Nikitin on top of what is shaping up to be an exciting Féile an Phobail card. 

However, the Russian denied him the chance of securing Rio revenge when he pulled out of the proposed match up with an injured bicep. 

The Adam Booth trained Top Rank fighter now faces WBC Latino featherweight title holder Diego Alberto Ruiz [21(10)-2] at the Falls Park. 

The personal element to the headline clash is now gone, but Conlan is happy the Argentine allows him to begin a process that he hopes will see him challenge for a world title in 2020. 

Indeed the Belfast fighter points out Ruiz is a more favourable option to Nikitin in terms of career progression. 

“Facing a higher level of opponent is better for me. I want to push on towards world titles and big, big fights and I have to start going through the gears now,” said Conlan after yesterday’s announcement was made. 

Conlan new opponent

Ruiz is certainly an opponent more suited in terms of maneuvering toward big fights, but Conlan points out that is not the only way in which he is ‘better’ than the Russian he was originally scheduled to face. 

The 27-year-old believes his new foe will prove more problematic than Nikitin and is a tougher fight. 

“I’ve got a high-class fighter in front of me in Ruiz and I’m expecting him to cause me more problems than what Nikitin could have caused me,” he adds before suggesting he will be better as a result. 

“The show goes on. A bigger fight is happening. A harder fight is happening. A better performance will happen. My motivation and mindset haven’t changed.”

Nikitin was signed to Top Rank solely with a ‘Rio revenge rematch’ in mind, but any meeting now looks unlikely.

Victory over Ruiz would leave Conlan looking to push closer to title shots and a 4-0 Nikitin wouldn’t be any help in that regard.  

“Maybe, once I’m world champion, I might give Nikitin a shot but for now I’m moving on because it was more stalling my career than advancing it in terms of the level I’m at.”


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