Olympic Boxing Corruption Robbed Michael Conlan In 2016

After capturing an Olympic bronze medal at London 2012, the boxing community paid extra attention to Michael Conlan soon after and by adding gold at the 2015 Amateur World Championships, the stage was set for the following year.

A stage that would see Conlan return to the Olympics in 2016 and with Rio acting as the hosts for such a sporting spectacular, the Belfast-born fighter was confident of improving on his efforts from four years previous.

Efforts that many pundits felt could certainly be improved and after losing in the Semi-finals in 2012 to Cuban Robeisy Ramirez, the now 29-year-old was considered to be in a much stronger frame of both body and mind.

Something that was certainly displayed back in 2015, as Conlan made light work of everyone who competed within the bantamweight division and after getting the better of Murodjon Akhmadaliev in the final, there was only one thing left to do. That was scooping gold in Rio nearly five years ago.

Especially as Armenian Aram Avagyan was disposed of with ease in the first round of the 2016 Olympic bantamweight tournament and with the Irishman earning the favour of all three judges, progress to round two was as simple as it could be.

Which set the standard for what was expected to come in the second round and with Russian Vladimir Nikitin acting as the next foe in wait, this was meant to be as routine a bout as any boxing match can be.

That was until it was left to the judges and whereas they all shared the same viewpoint of Conlan dominance in his previous bout, for some reason they were not on the same page at the end of this contest.

A contest that the Commonwealth and European gold medallist should have won and even if you were not a boxing fan and just decided to put the Olympics on your television for half an hour, you would arrive at the same obvious conclusion.

Although that conclusion somehow saw Nikitin adjudged to have won the fight on a judge’s split decision and with everyone in attendance and nearly the whole of Ireland in uproar, the penny was soon about to drop.

A penny that was a particularly bad one and with our Irish hero taking incredible umbrage at the decision that went against him and rightly so it must be said, he did not hold back in showing his rather obvious frustration.

Frustration that was not just a shrug of the shoulders and the thought of “oh well never mind” but a gesticulation to the judges who wronged him just seconds earlier and with that act being carried out, there was one word on everyone’s lips.

That word being the one word that nobody really wants to mention within the circles of amateur boxing but a word that everybody is fully aware of in terms of its existence and the word unfortunately is corruption.

A group of men in a wrestling ring

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Corruption that was clear as day at Rio 2016 and such was the disgust after the events in Brazil, that Conlan decided that the amateur circuit and the quest for the medals, was an environment he no longer wanted to be a part of.

From that day, the amateur ranks were left behind and you would have to say that although defeat at the Rio Olympics would have been an incredibly bitter pill to swallow, it may have ended up being an inadvertent benefit in the long run.

Because the fighter who can trade blows with either an orthodox or southpaw stance has a professional record of 16-0 at the time of writing and not only that, has the WBA interim featherweight title in his possession. Has nowhere to go but up in his professional career which he has done so far. The sky’s the limit for Colan. This December he is set to step into the ring and if you check free sports picks  around his fight you will most likely find him as the favored in this bout. 

While it is not full featherweight honours, it is at least vindication for turning professional and leaving the amateur circus behind and with a fight against the WBA (regular) champion on the horizon, things are continually looking up for the man who won his title earlier this year.

A title that perhaps sticks the same thumbs down at amateur boxing as a whole, because although this man was certainly robbed in Rio, he is at least making money for his sacrifice and the more wins he records, the more money he will make.

While maybe it is that Brazilian crime that adds fuel to Conlan’s own personal fire and if that is the motivation for every professional fight that he takes thereafter, then you can only feel sorry for the man he shares a ring with.

A man who next time around is reported to be Leigh Wood and with the Englishman currently holding the other claim to WBA honours, it may well be that the pride of Ireland soon extends his professional record to 17-0. 


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years