Michael Conlan moved to 13-0 in the professional ranks after avenging his controversial loss at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with a win over Vladimir Nikitin in Madison Square Garden.
On the night, Conlan eased to victory over the Russian with the scorecards reading 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92 to give the Belfast boxer a unanimous decision victory.
In what was the pair’s first meeting since Conlan’s now infamous outburst after the Olympic gold medal hopeful was controversially beaten in their quarter-final meeting, it was Conlan who, yet again, dominated the fight landing a total of 177 punches compared to Nikitin’s 130.
The rematch started off slow but the Irish boxer, who was a heavy favourite to take home the win, began to gain some momentum as the fight entered the fourth and fifth rounds. Nikitin was his usual aggressive self but was totally outmatched by the more stylish and composed Conlan.
The Russian’s best spell of the fight came in the seventh and eighth rounds when he forced a cut above the Irishman’s eye. However, Conlan rallied to dominate the ninth round as he teed off on the now over-aggressive Russian.
As the pair embraced following the ten-round fight it was clear the fight was only going one way and deservedly so as Conlan predicted he would be fighting for a world title within the next year.
“It was a lot of pressure going into this fight,” Conlan said post-fight.
“I feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. But it’s nice to get it done.
“On that performance, it wasn’t as clean as I wanted. Vladimir actually came out with different tactics and tried to box. It took me a while to find a rhythm but I found it, it was cool and easy.
“Maybe I stayed in a comfort zone too long instead of pushing it. You could see when I wanted to trade I could do it better than him but the game is all about longevity.
“I’ve always said I’ve no ill-feeling towards Vladimir. Nothing was personal. I just needed to get that one back. That fight could have been very emotional because of what happened and what it caused for me. I just had to remain calm. We worked on that in training camp and it worked tonight.”