The Russian featherweight, who ‘defeated’ the Belfast fighter at the Rio Olympics via one of the sports most controversial results ever, was confirmed as the former amateur World champion’s Féile Festival opponent today.
By all accounts, the Top Rank puncher wasn’t too keen with the homecoming and Belfast element of the fight – particularly after hearing it may play out in front of 10,000 revenge-hungry fight fans, but still remains confident of defeating the local favourite.
Indeed, the 29-year-old claims he will register a third win over the West Belfast man come August 3rd and predicts he will do so via third-round knock out.
Before their Rio meeting, the pair had fought in the 2013 World Amateur Championships, with the bout ending another debated, albeit less so, Nikitin win.
Regardless, the Komi puncher draws genuine confidence from their past meeting
“One things for certain he wholeheartedly believes he is going to destroy Mick,” Jamie Conlan, who was chief negotiator in terms of making the fight, explained before describing a rather tense conversation with the Russian.
“When I sat down with him and Egis [Klimas, Nikitin’s manager] I tried to be diplomatic. I said ‘look if you lose we will guarantee your looked after. We will guarantee you x amount of fights’ and that kind of thing.”
“Then he said to me ‘I beat him twice before’. He put his two fingers up ‘not once, when no cameras were on I beat him’. I said ‘I seen that fight and you didn’t beat him then either’, it’s on YouTube.”
“He kept saying ‘I will beat him, I will beat him’. He said within three rounds. He really thinks he will beat Michael.”