Vladimir Nikitin wins pro debut – calls for Mick Conlan rematch


Vladimir Nikitin finally made his professional debut and, following a dominant win, the controversial Russian was calling for a rematch with Ireland’s Mick Conlan.

‘Toxic’ Nikitin infamously was adjudged to have beaten Conlan in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics almost two years ago.

While Conlan landed the greater number of shots and worsened pre-existing injuries to such a degree which forced Nikitin to subsequently pull out of the competition, he still lost out unanimously on the cards.

The verdict, and Conlan’s middle-finger reaction, was one of the most controversial moments of the Games in Brazil.

After remaining amateur for the 2017 European Championships, Nikitin would sign with influential Russian manager Egis Klimas and linked up with Top Rank – becoming a promotional stablemate of Conlan and Shakur Stevenson.

Following a postponed start-date, Nikitin finally made his pro bow last night in Florida.

Fighting on the undercard of the vacant WBO super featherweight title fight between Christoper Diaz and Masayuki Ito – won by Ito – Nikitin impressed.

The Olympic bronze medallist dropped Ugandan Edward Kakembo twice en-route to a wide six-round unanimous decision win over the recent African champion at the Kissimmee Civic Centre.

Kakembo was hurt badly in the second, down to the body in the fourth, and again in the sixth, but survived to see the final bell.

Immediately after the one-sided win the Komi fighter called for Conlan.

He stated that “I want Conlan. That is the plan, and he is the main reason why I signed with Top Rank. The judges won’t be necessary this time around.”

28-year-old Nikitin has been based in Oxnard, California, recently and has been sparring with the likes of WBA featherweight champion and two-time Carl Frampton opponent Leo Santa Cruz.

Conlan is currently ticking over following the birth of his second child, Mick Jr.

The Belfast 26-year-old headlined his home city last month in a massive homecoming bout with recent world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos.

The Falls Road fighter, now trained by Adam Booth, looks set to return to the ring on December 8th in New York before hitting the city again for St Patrick’s Weekend 2019 – a possible destination for the Nikitin rematch.

Conlan had a message for his old rival following the fight last night.

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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