As he stood surveying the room following the press conference to announce his rematch with Vladimir Niktin, Mick Conlan quipped that “he looks like a badass guy, he looks like he has a bit of evil in him – and I look like the Hulk”
The Belfast featherweight was referencing the green and red tinged poster for their August 3rd pro repeat in the Falls Park and while he anticipates a violent KO win, Conlan promises that he won’t see red.
As fearsome as the Russian bad guy may seem on the poster, the Top Rank starlet predicts that the scary-looking slugger will be the one on the receiving end of another damaging display, this time on centre-stage at the Féile an Phobail.
Following a tortuous period of negotiation and bargaining the fight has been signed and sealed and Conlan now has his chance to banish the memory of his controversial loss to Nikitin at the Rio Olympics and move into ‘world title’ section of his pro career.
Naturally confident, Conlan [11(4)-0] believes he will relish rather than recede with the atmosphere and predicts he will blow away Nikitin [3(0)-0] in front of 10,000 fans and end a chapter in his career which still niggles.
“Finally it’s here. The last few months I’ve been unsure if it was going to happen. Now it’s done, I’m really excited,” he said following the press conference this afternoon at the Balmoral Hotel.
A fight hich needs little building, Conlan explained how “I’m facing a guy who got a decision over me which he should never have got. He feels differently, he feels he won fair and square.”
“So, it’s a fight we both need, me and him. I need to have it now too because I need to move on with my professional career, I don’t want to be hanging about waiting to fight Vladimir Nikitin or going too many fights ahead of him. The fact that it’s happening now, I’m really glad.”
“This is a huge fight for me, personally – and for anyone who watched the interview and watched the performance live and saw everything that happened.”
Putting himself in Nikitin’s shoes, the Belfast feather notes how “he believes he won in Rio 2016, I’ve seen his little statements, that he’s coming here to my backgarden and is going to beat me in my hometown. He’s coming here with intent, not just to get a paycheck.”
“He probably has bad feelings towards the decision too. He believes he won and I heard his team say they believe he won so that’s why they’re taking this fight.”
“He obviously feels very upset because his amateur career is remembered for his controversial decision over me so he probably wants to right a wrong he feels shouldn’t have been written for him. ”
By the time fight night rolls around we will be almost three years on from their infamous clash in Brazil.
While Conlan has already made strides in the pros, he is keen to get the win over Nikitin before moving on to bigger and better things.
The Komi 29-year-old, who has been unimpressive thus far in the pros, remains a constant theme in all mainstream coverage of Conlan and he plans to end this on August 3rd.
The Falls Road 27-year-old describes how “it didn’t take to long [to get over] to be honest, but it’s always there, it’s always getting brought up, I’m always being reminded about it.”
“The loss, to me, it was never a loss. I don’t really call it a loss but it’s a fight where, if I didn’t have [a rematch], it would always be there for the rest of my life. This is closure, of that chapter of my life, of my career.”
Conlan wants this closure to be firm and states that “this is not going to points, I can promise everyone, this is not going to points.”
“Even though it’s in Belfast, I’m not letting this guy go to points.”
“It’s time to get that victory back. I want to get him out of there. I don’t want it to go to points because I don’t want to leave anything to the judges this time.”
“It’s not anger, I’m just going to go in, do what I do, and then take him out. I’m not going to go for a slugfest but I will make sure I’ll stop him”