Man who 'beat' Mick Conlan in Rio Olympics calls for rematch following pro debut
A real grudge match may be on the cards for Mick Conlan.
Vladimir Nikitin, best known as the other boxer in the ring as Mick Conlan was robbed of a second Olympic medal at Rio 2016, made his professional debut at the weekend.
The Russian put on a dazzling performance against Edward Kakembo, who entered into the bout with a 10-4 professional record. The Ugandan featherweight left the ring with another entry in the loss column. Nikitin scored two knockdowns en route to a unanimous decision victory in the six-round fight. The judges scored the contest 60-52, 60-52, and 60-51 in his favour.
After the bout, he called for the Irishman whom he 'beat' in the Olympic quarter-finals two years ago.
"I want Conlan. That is the plan, and he is the main reason why I signed with Top Rank. I want to fight him as a pro. The judges won't be necessary this time around."
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) July 28, 2018
Conlan's incredible success as an amateur meant his inevitable transition into pro boxing was always going to be high-profile. However, it was his final amateur bout, the one that forced the move that saw him garner attention from the world's mainstream media.
Nikitin was so badly beaten up by Conlan over four rounds that he was unable to continue in the competition. The injuries he suffered saw him withdraw before the semi-final, but he still went home a bronze medal. Conlan's expletive-laden interview with RTE directly after flipping the bird in protest of the judges' decision instantly became iconic.
The Belfast man has embraced the extra attention the controversy brought him. In fact, he's even used his famous 'one-fingered salute' as a logo for his merchandise.
My hats are now available for “PRE ORDER” anyone who pre orders now, will have hats sent out around Jan 7th. I’ve teamed up with @chubbyco_ on this, here is the link https://t.co/E0CPdqBrpX #TeamConlan #TheConlanRevolution pic.twitter.com/VxuzI6gWdc
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) December 8, 2017
Conlan has admitted in the past that he feels no ill will towards Nikitin. He recognises that the judges the decision was out of his hands, adding that he "he's probably got more stick than he should have."
That being said, Conlan knows how marketable that fight is. At this point in his career, he couldn't really ask for a bigger match-up.
He responded to the call out with a four-word response.
See you soon Vlad.. Congrats. pic.twitter.com/ZO48Vf8JdU
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) July 28, 2018
He'll need an opponent for the Madison Square Garden bout on Paddy's Day next year.