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Vladimir Nikitin comparison not in Mick Conlan’s mind ahead of shared Las Vegas card

It’s no coincidence that Shakur Stevenson fought last week and that Mick Conlan shares a bill with Vladimir Nikitin tomorrow.

Top Rank promotes all three featherweights and are looking to build the Olympic medallists into big fights with each other.

Conlan, the promotional outfit’s #1 prospect, is right in the middle – with Bob Arum describing a future clash with Stevenson being a modern Hagler-Hearns.

Then there is Nikitin, the Russian who so infamously beat the Belfast boxer at the Rio Olympics. The 28-year-old has been signed with the express purpose of being a 2019 opponent for Conlan – although Stevenson would enjoy a match-up with the Komi puncher too having seen their Olympic semi fall through when Nikitin withdrew from the competition due to injuries worsened by the shellacking he took versus Conlan in the quarter-finals.

Nikitin [1(0)-0] and Conlan [8(5)-0] both fight tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, with comparisons and narrative being the order of the day ahead of a clash next year.

2015 World Amateur champion Conlan, however, claims he is adopting tunnel vision and is focused solely on former Italian champion Nicola Cipolletta [14(4)-6(2)-2] and their eight rounder in Sin City.

The Falls Road feather outlined how “I think some time next year, it will happen. There’s already talk of it but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t focus on it – I focus on myself and how I’m going to perform.”

“It’s irrelevant to me now. It’s irrelevant to what’s going to happen. It’s irrelevant to where I’m at now as a professional.”

“It’s in the past and it’s going to stay in the past and that’s it.

Conlan’s coach Adam Booth, who will be in the corner for the fourth time tomorrow, has no time for the pageantry of boxing.

Indeed the London coach says Nikitin, who fights Clay Burns [5(4)-4(0)-2] over six, is a name that is not on his radar.

‘The Dark Lord’ noted that “to be honest, the only time the name ‘Nikitin’ comes into my consciousness is when I’m reading something and his name is printed.”

“I’m just thinking about what I’ve got to do to encourage Michael to be the best fighter he can be and whoever’s in the other corner, he’ll bring out the tools for that job.”

“Michael doesn’t need any motivation. When he turns up, it doesn’t how tired or achey he is, he does the work he’s supposed to do. He’s very much like Andy Lee in that respect.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie