Michael Conlan received a call-out from a familiar face after last weekend – one that could well light a fire under his belly to accept the challenge.
Jump back to Rio 2016. The hotly-tipped Conlan faced off against Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals in the Olympic bantamweight boxing event and while the fight – to the naked eye – looked like a dominant win for the Irishman, the judges saw it completely differently.
Awarding the battered and bruised Russian the decision, he was the one who went on to book his place in the next round – even though the injuries he sustained at the hand of his opponent forced him to withdraw.
Conlan infamously ranted in the fight’s immediate aftermath – flipping the bird at the officials present while claiming that the sport of amateur boxing was full to the brim with corruption.
He turned pro soon after, and now holds a record of 8-0.
Nikitin, himself, turned professional over the weekend, mauling Edward Kakembo (10-4) to a lopsided decision win on the scorecards.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) July 28, 2018
Speaking to the media in his pro-debut’s direct aftermath, Nikitin made it clear that he has his sights set on a rematch with his former ‘victim’.
“This was my first professional fight, but it was also my first fight in a year.
“I took a long break from boxing, just relaxing for a whole year, and that is why this was a great experience for me.
“I was in control and dropped my opponent a couple of times, but we went the distance.
“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.”
Conlan has actually spoken in the past on his wish to run that now infamous contest back, telling The Irish Times that Nikitin signing with Top Rank was the first step in him erasing a rather ugly memory in his otherwise stellar career.
“I want that rematch with Vladimir Nikitin who got that decision in the Olympics and now Top Rank have signed him, it will happen.
“They went out of their way to sign him because it has to happen.”
Conlan took to his official Twitter page soon after to respond to the man who in his own words ‘shattered’ his dream.
See you soon Vlad.. Congrats. pic.twitter.com/ZO48Vf8JdU
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) July 28, 2018
It would be a fight with a truly unique narrative, one that has its roots in the highest levels of the amateur circuit.
Whether it gets signed remains to be seen but from the way these two have been talking – it seems like a no-brainer.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena