Michael Conlan had to wait over three years, but he finally got a measure of revenge against old amateur rival Vladimir Nikitin tonight at Madison Square Garden, winning a wide unanimous decision over 10 rounds.
Official scores were 98-92, 99-91, and 100-90 for Conlan, while Bad Left Hook scored the fight 96-94 and 98-92, both for Conlan, on two separate cards.
Conlan (13-0, 7 KO) had pockets of trouble with Nikitin (3-1, 0 KO), who is a limited fighter but a fiercely determined guy. For all the talk of Nikitin robbing Conlan in Rio back in 2016, sometimes lost in that was that Nikitin fought a hell of a fight that night, and he did so again here. Conlan deserved the win in Rio and deserved and got it tonight, but it’s clear that Nikitin has a style that can give Conlan at least a little trouble.
In particular, Conlan proved vulnerable at moments trying to mix it up inside with Nikitin, but on the other hand he did some of his best work in there, too, from an offensive standpoint, landing hard and sharp shots while exchanging.
The 28-year-old Conlan, one of the most heavily-hyped prospects in the sport, said he was glad to get this fight over with after having it postponed from its original August date.
“It was a lot of pressure,” Conlan admitted. “I feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s nice to get it done. As I’ve always said, I have no ill feeling towards Vladimir. Nothing was personal. I just needed to get that one back.”
Asked what he wants next, Conlan took a laid back approach.
“I want a Christmas dinner with ham and all the trimmings,” he said. “I want to enjoy this. Too many people get asked this question after a fight and blurt some bull. I love Christmas, we’re going to enjoy New York.”
But Conlan did answer when asked how close he thinks he is to a world title fight.
“Within 12 months,” he told Bernardo Osuna.