Mick Conlan aiming to set up Olympic rematch and end Nikitin dependency


Mick Conlan is torn.

The Belfast featherweight is tired of everyone’s Vladimir Nikitin addiction but admits it is a fight he desperately wants.

The pair both box tonight in New York at the famous Theater at Madison Square Garden, live on ESPN+ and BoxNaton.

Conlan [10(6)-0] tops the bill in a ten-round clash with Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez [24(10)-3(1)-2] while his controversial Olympic conqueror Nikitin [2(0)-0] faces Texan Juan Tapia [8(3)-2(0)] over six.

Explaining his situation, Conlan described how “it’s annoying that everyone keeps talking about it but it is what it is and it’s the only fight I want to happen urgently – title fights included.”

With all that said, the 27-year-old hopes Nikitin impresses this evening to help further build a proposed August clash in Belfast at the Féile an Phobail in the Falls Park.

Indeed, Conlan wants the Russian to stay at the Felt Forum following his undercard bout to sample the atmosphere – perhaps even for an in-ring face-off with Conlan.

“I hope Nikitin stays to watch after he fights on the undercard,” he said.

“Obviously I want belts as soon as possible but I want to get Nikitin out of the way first. I’d like to beat him and I’m sure he’ll stick around to sample some of the atmosphere he’ll experience when we face each other.

“I’m due a big fight this year. Hernandez is definitely a significant step up but it’s about getting out there, putting in a good performance, taking a big scalp and looking to impress.”

The Falls Road fighter feels improved from his most recent outing.

Conlan defeated England’s Jason Cunningham, almost stopping the Doncaster man late on – although shipping some clean shots during.

It’s all about progress for the former World Amateur champion who is aiming to put on his best show yet on his third St Patrick’s Day outing – and first real competitive one.

“I feel like I’ve fixed some mistakes I made in the Cunningham fight during this camp,” he noted.

“Everything needs to be improved. Every single fight, every single camp, I’m adding little bits and constantly tightening up every little area of my game.”

“It’s all about progression. As long as I’m better than I was in my last bout then I’ll be happy. If the opportunity arises to take him out, I’ll do it because that’s always the aim when it comes to impressing people.”

“I think this will be my best yet and a great show for everyone to watch on St Patrick’s Day.

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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