Michael Conlan captured his first professional title belt last night in Manchester, but the darkest day of his career is still on his mind.
The Belfast favourite earned a bronze medal in his first Olympic games appearance in 2012, but his 2016 bid ended in farcical circumstances.
Conlan looked to have soundly beaten Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarter finals, but lost the first and third rounds on each scorecard, leading to an infamous post-fight interview in which he accused the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA) of being “cheating bastards”.
His move to the paid ranks has gone swimmingly though, with his tenth win coming last night against Jason Cunningham, earning the WBO Inter-Continental featherweight title in the process.
After a successful 2018, thoughts turned to what lies ahead next year. When IFL TV’s Andrew McCart raised the possibility of a Nikitin rematch, this time at professional level, Conlan was keen on the idea.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said in reference to a 2019 rematch. “I think it’s definitely going to happen.
“Top Rank have talked about it, it’s been talked about for a long time now. I hope it happens; the sooner the better for me.”
While Conlan stressed that he had no problem with the Russian, his gripe of course being with the judges, it was suggested that the feeling might not be mutual.
“I’ve no bad blood against Vladimir, so I’m not gonna create any fake beef,” he stated. “But there is a score that needs to be settled, and we’ll settle it.
“The only reason he signed with Top Rank was to fight me. If anything, he has beef towards me.
“Put yourself in his shoes. He won an Olympic bronze medal, and the only thing that he’s ever going to be remembered for is winning controversially over me. This is his money fight.”
Conlan believes that Nikitin wants the fight soon also, in the hopes of not losing his ‘0’ in the meantime to build up legitimacy. The interview can be seen here via IFL TV.