Boxing

Michael Conlan closing in on rematch with Vladimir Nikitin at Falls Park

Michael Conlan wants to take on Olympic Games opponent Vladimir Nikitin in Belfast in August
Andy Watters

MICHAEL Conlan's dream fight with Russian Olympic nemesis Vladimir Nikitin could be made for the Falls Park on August 8.

Conlan, who infamously lost a decision to Nikitin in the quarter-finals of the Rio Games back in 2016, says the mouth-watering grudge match, which could be a headline act at Feile an Phobail, is “90 per cent there” at this stage and he is confident that any issues in the remaining 10 per cent can be ironed out.

Before then Conlan, who moved to 11-0 with six stoppages wins by beating Ruben Garcia Hernandez at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day, will appear on the undercard of a bill in Los Angeles on June 8 headlined by possible Carl Frampton opponent Oscar Valdez.

“It's a keep-busy one,” said Conlan of his LA rumble.

“I'm still waiting on an opponent for it so I'm not sure how big it's going to be but it's a keep-busy one for the big one – although it's not 100 per cent yet – against Vladimir Nikitin in the Feile.

“We're 90 per cent there now. It looks like that's the one for the summer and August 3rd will be the date.

“It's definitely the one I want and I know Nikitin wants it, big time, and Top Rank want it so it's all about getting it over the line. I'm sure he wants good money for it, he'll be wanting a good purse for it because it could be his last cash-out fight.

“I know they (Nikitin's team) are confident, they believe they won the first fight, the Olympics fight, and they'll be confident which is all the better for me. It's the one I want, it'll be a dream come true when it gets done and I'll be walking into the Falls Park for the first big, big fight of my career in Belfast. It'll be a special one and it's the fight I'm gunning for.

“Hopefully it gets over the line.”

Conlan and Nikitin were both on the St Patrick's Day bill at Madison Square Garden. Conlan impressed against Garcia while Nikitin laboured to the third win of his career against Juan Tapia on the undercard.

“His (Nikitin's) manager has been talking about getting it done,” Conlan explained.

“Every time I see him we're always nice to each other, there's no badness, but at the same time he has a beef to settle with me and I have a beef to settle with him.

“Once the fight is made I'm sure there'll be a bit more tension and a few things said. I want him to know that I'm coming to take his head off. I don't think it'll go past six rounds.”

Meanwhile, Conlan's stablemate Ryan Burnett returns to action after an injury lay-off as the headline act on an SSE Arena bill on May 17.

Burnett (19-1) lost his WBA and IBF bantamweight titles when he was pulled out of his World Boxing Super Series quarter-final in Glasgow against Nonito Donaire in November. Burnett tore his oblique muscle and was pulled out after four rounds by coach Booth.

SEAN McComb says Danny Vaughan's Scottish hurtlocker is bringing the best out of him.

Light-welterweight McComb, AKA ‘The Public Nuisance', is working alongside WBO European champion Sam Maxwell and Tyrone McKenna at Vaughan's Holywell stable and he believes the trio are pushing each other on to new heights.

“It's great having me, Sam Maxwell and Tyrone McKenna in the same gym,” he said.

“The sparring is competitive but not overheated. We try to outfox each other rather than kill each other.

“It's all for learning. If I find something is working in my favour against them, I'll tell them how to prevent it. Vice-versa. They'll tell me if they're catching me with certain punches.

“We're improving each other all the time. We all want to see each other go on to win world titles and if that happens then happy days.

“I was happy with my performance last time out and I'm looking forward to find out what's next for me. I feel I'm improving each time.”

Meanwhile, David Oliver Joyce defeated Stephen Tiffney in Dubai to become the new WBO European featherweight champion.

Joyce, now 10-0 was cut early but stopped Scotland's Tiffney in the seventh round to pick up his first title as a pro.

“It was an unbelievable performance, so thank you to MTK Global and all of the Dubai people who came out to see it,” said former Carl Frampton amateur rival Joyce.

“I was confident going into the fight because I was on weight, and everything was perfect.

“For the past 14 weeks I've lived like a professional. For the first time ever I've had all of the right meals and the right amount of training and sleep, so I have to credit my nutritionist for getting me in this fantastic shape.”

EUROPEAN lightweight contender James Tennyson returns to action on the MHD Promotions, in association with A McLean Bookmakers, ‘Summer Brawl' bill at the Europa Hotel on Saturday, May 18.

Also confirmed for the show are Paul Hyland jnr, Cathy McAleer, Feargal McCrory and Dubliner Victor Rabei.

“They will all be in exciting fights,” said MHD Promotions' Mark Dunlop.

“Tennyson is honing in on the European Lightweight title and ‘Hylo' (Hyland jnr) is knocking on the door for the British title so their contests could see both of them in mandatory positions for those titles again.

“New Irish champion Feargal McCrory and the popular Cathy McAleer are also looking to progress onto the bigger stage with victories that can only push them in that direction. Rabei is on the home straight for a shot at the Irish title and he ventures up to the North for the first time.”

He added: “I am blessed to have such an outstanding line up on show on May 18, the Europa shows are very popular, like home from home for my team. It will be another quality night.”

Tickets are priced at £80 (VIP Ringside including four-course meal), £50 (ringside), £45 (reserved), £40 (unreserved). Contact 07712473905 or email mark@mhdpromotions.com.

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