Conlan to use famous ‘f**king cheats’ moment as rematch motivation

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Michael Conlan [12(7)-0] has watched footage of events from August 3 2016, a date now famous in Irish sport, as he prepares for his rematch with Vladimir Nikitin [3-0].

However, he didn’t take in the fight that played out on that day, rather the post fight interview that went around the world.

After the by now infamous robbery, that helped changed how the IOC and the Olympic approach boxing, the Belfast fighter gave both middle fingers and both barrels to ‘fucking cheats’ IABA.

Distraught and disgusted, that his first boxing dream, winning Olympic gold, had been stolen from him he was emotional, vocal, non compliant with TV etiquette and unwilling to let the injustice be brushed under the ‘that’s boxing’ rug.

Unlike fellow Olympic decision victims Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones Jr, Conlan has been afforded the chance to avenge that reverse as he faces the Russian in the pro ring in New York, live on ESPN on December 14 – and he admits he has tapped into the raw emotions of his RTE interview to help motivate him going into the big Top Rank fight night.

“I watch that and let that feeling build to help motivate me, push me, and relight that fire of those feelings of why this cannot happen again,” Conlan told the Business Insider, who last month spent some time in Dublin interviewing boxers.

It might surprise some that the Top Rank bright light needs any extra motivation ahead of a return with Nikitin, but after a proposed August meeting fell through the Belfast fighter was clear about putting Rio and the Russian behind him.

Not to mention the pair are at different stages in their pro careers and in truth Nikitin, who has just three wins to his name, wouldn’t be deemed a worthy opponent for a fighter closing on a world title, but for the narrative.

However, with a little help from Youtube the 27-year-old has already bought back into setting the record straight and is looking forward to defeating a fighter who twice beat him in the amateurs.

“It’s not personal with Vladimir Nikitin but it’s personal in terms of my career, the history of my career, and when I look back, the legacy of it. It will look beautiful when I fix what shouldn’t have happened,” he continues before issuing words of caution.

“But this could go absolutely wrong so I’ve got to put the work in to make sure the happy end to this story does come true.”

The former World amateur #1 and World Championship gold medal winner gave inflicted such a beating on Nikitin in Rio that the bronze medallist wasn’t able to compete against Shakur Stevenson – another Top Rank pro – in the semi finals.

Conlan appears to trump his December Madison Square Garden foe in every department, but he has been told not to expect an easy nights work by his coach Adam Booth.

“Adam was saying he has improved from the amateurs, a little more reckless, thinking, ‘This isn’t the amateurs anymore, I can go in, do what I want and throw bombs.’ He tries to take your head off.”

“But what I’m going to enforce against him will work beautifully, and it will be a really exciting fight for fans.”


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: