Michael Conlan put Vladimir Nikitin and to some degree Rio behind him on Saturday night to move to within one win of a world title shot.
Three years on from their controversial meeting in the Olympic quarter-finals, Conlan put the issue to bed with a scorecards win over the Russian at the Madison Square Garden Arena in New York.
Opening the televised portion of the undercard of Terence Crawford’s WBO welterweight title defence versus Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Conlan came to the ring on ESPN immediately following the presentation of the Heisman Trophy for the best College [American] Footballer of the Year.
With a large cohort of casual boxing fans viewing, the narrative-friendly clash with Nikitin was always a perfect fit and Conlan ensured a storybook ending with a wide unanimous decision win.
Conlan was confirmed a winner by unanimous decision on slightly wide scorecards of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92.
The relieving win sees Conlan improve to 13(7)-0 while Nikitin drops to 3(0)-1(0).
28-year-old Conlan, who retained his WBO Inter-Continental in the process, is currently ranked WBO #1, WBA #3, IBF #9, and WBC #14 – with boosts in the next update expected.
A world title fight in 2020 is expected, perhaps at the Féile an Phobail in August following another St Patrick’s Day headline slot at the Theater at Madison Square Garden – although tonight all he will want to focus on is the closing of a chapter in his career.
Watch the best bits back below- courtesy of Top Rank.