Saturday 25 January 2020

Conlan hopes it will be third-time lucky against Nikitin

Michael Conlan
Michael Conlan

Michael Conlan will be hoping to avoid a hat-trick of defeats to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin when the pair meet at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, writes Bernard O'Neill.

Nikitin holds two decisions over the Belfast native in the amateur ranks, the second victory helped him go on to claim bronze at Rio 2016 after controversially beating Conlan in the last eight.

The Russian feather has previously admitted that the Rio bout was a close affair.

However, he wasn't pleased when asked if the medal secured after winning the quarter-final - he pulled out of the semi-finals because of the injuries he sustained - was devalued.

As he turns his attention to the rematch with Conlan, Nikitin has three wins in the pro ranks

"I beat him twice in the amateurs and will do the same as a pro," said the 29-year-old who outpointed Conlan in the 2013 Worlds, but lost to John Joe Nevin the same year.

Unbeaten Conlan holds no grudge against his opponent but has vowed to record an inside-the-distance win and improve to 13 victories.

"It doesn't go past seven rounds; I'll take him out. I'll completely outsmart him.

"I'm too strong, too experienced for him. I'm a different animal than I was.

"I don't see him getting past the seventh round," he said.

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