Mick Conlan aims to step-up ahead of inevitable Nikitin rematch


While revenge is a dish best served cold, the chance to dish it out has been served on a platter for Michael Conlan [7(5)-0].

The Belfast fighter who returns home and tops an exciting card in his home city tomorrow night claims Top Rank bent over backwards to sign Russian Vladimir Nikitin solely to quench Conlan’s thirst for revenge.

Conlan was defeated by the Russian in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics in a highly controversial decision following a dominant performance from the Irishman.

The Falls fighter outboxed and outfought Nikitin but was adjudged to have lost 29-28 on all three scorecards. Conlan’s middle-finger reaction hit the headlines worldwide and even caught the eye of Top Rank Bob Arum.

The promotional outfit had been keeping tabs on the World Amateur champion but Conlan admits himself that the unparalleled level of backing he has received in the pros is, in part, due to his reaction to the result.

Nikitin won bronze that afternoon in Brazil but went no further, pulling out of his semi-final with Shakur Stevenson, who is also now signed to Top Rank, due to injuries suffered in the Last 16 and exponentially worsened by Conlan.

Following another year in the amateurs, the Russian has linked up with Top Rank and influential manager Egis Klimas but Conlan knows that the move to the pros is with a view to providing the 26-year-old with a chance of revenge.

Conlan explained how “I want that rematch with Vladimir Nikitin who got that decision in the Olympics and now Top Rank have signed him, it will happen.”

“Top Rank went out of their way to make it happen because they know it’s a match that has to be made.”

“I want to thank Top Rank for doing that, Bob for headhunting that guy and getting him because that’s a match I want – whether it’s here in Belfast or whether it’s in New York, it doesn’t bother me as long as I get the rematch.”

First though, Conlan makes the move from prospect to contender tomorrow night versus Brazilian recent world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos [19(14)-4(2)].

It’s a big step-up for the Adam Booth-trained fighter who is promising a break-out performance live on BT Sport and BoxNation.

Conlan outlined how “he’s a big puncher and I’ve got to be careful.”

“Dos Santos is a big puncher, tall guy, long arms and throws a lot of straight shots but is dangerous when he throws hooks and it’s a step up.”

“It’s one the fans deserve because, if I was fighting a nobody, no one would want to come. They know their boxing and they understand it.”

“I know what to expect, I’ve been working on a lot of things in training camp, I’ve got great sparring, and I’m feeling good.”

“I’ve basically been in training camp since January when I started with Adam. I’ve fought three times now this year already.”

“I will have an assassin’s mentality and be destructive.”

“There’s hype around me but I won’t let it get to my head.”

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