Belfast Bob – Top Rank boss Arum coming to town to reveal Conlan’s Féile foe

Top Rank boss and legendary fight promoter Bob Arum will visit Belfast next week to confirm an opponent for Michael Conlans eagerly anticipated Féile an Phobail bill.

The long-mooted outdoor festival card was confirmed by the event’s organisers on Tuesday and it’s believed Arum will visit the fight mad city to confirm who will provide the opposition for the Falls Roads fighter in the Falls Park.

Arum didn’t make the trip when Conlan was first revealed as an a Top Rank signing to the Irish press, leaving the publicity duties to the Olympic medallist’s then-manager Matthew Macklin and his own son-in-law and Top Rank president Todd duBoeuf.

However, the Irish News report he is expected in Belfast next week, where he may also take in the ESPN+ card at the Ulster Hall, to announce the details of the show and an opponent for Conlan’s second Belfast pro fight.

It’s widely expected that controversial former Olympic opponent Vladimir Nikitin, who is also Top Rank affiliated,  will be confirmed as the opponent for the Adam Booth-trained fighter.

The younger brother of recent world title challenger Jamie Conlan has certainly expressed a desire to secure Rio revenge in his home city this Summer before making a push toward world honours.

Irish-Boxing.com understand that the powers that be at ESPN were not overly keen on the world title hopeful topping a card against a fighter with just three, largely unimpressive, pro wins to his name – but it seems they have been persuaded that the Russian is the perfect foe for Conlan for a show in Ireland.

The narrative and hype generated by bringing Nikitin to town would certainly seem to outweigh any worries surrounding his novice pro standing, and the Komi fighter’s participation looks to be a rather integral part in generating interest for an outdoor event that will have 10,000 in attendance.

Conlan has suggested moving down to super bantamweight, noting near-immediate title opportunities but a minor delay for a Nikitin Féile fight can surely be accommodated.

No date as been officially confirmed for the 27-year-old’s card, but talk doing the rounds suggest it will play out on Saturday August 3rd as part of the first weekend of a festival that runs from  Thursday August 1st to Sunday August 11th.

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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com 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: editoririshboxing@gmail.com