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Michael Conlan boxing opponent bows out of Rio Olympics as his 'face is a mess'

By Michael McHugh

Published 18/08/2016

Vladimir Nikitin after the fight
Vladimir Nikitin after the fight
Finn’s letter to Michael Conlan

The Russian bantamweight who defeated Michael Conlan in controversial circumstances in the Olympic boxing quarter-final will not fight for a place in the final in Rio, according to reports.

Vladimir Nikitin had been scheduled to take on America's Shakur Stevenson in the semi-finals, but he will not fight due to injuries sustained in his opening two wins, including his victory over the Belfast boxer.

Team USA coach Billy Walsh told that Stevenson would go through automatically.

Walsh said Nikitin pulled out of today's semi-final because "his face was a mess", according to Russian coaches.

This means that Nikitin will take home a bronze medal with Stevenson automatically advancing to the gold medal bout on Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, a young Irish boxing fan offered Conlan his school medal after he departed the Rio Olympics with a foul-mouthed tirade on Tuesday.

Ireland's reigning world champion could not hide his anger when the three judges sided with his opponent, leaving his dream of building on his bronze medal at London 2012 in tatters.

Five-year-old Finn McManus and his sister, Lily (9), from Co Dublin, wrote a touching letter to their hero.

"I saw your fight in Rio and you should have won because you are the best boxer in the world," they said.

"I want you to have my school medal because you are a winner. I hope you like it."

Their mother sent a photo of Finn's medal and the handwritten letter by private message to Conlan on Facebook. The boxer later tweeted: "Very warming message from this young lad. If anyone knows who he is, could they please tell him I have a gift for him."

Olympic boxing's governing body AIBA has expelled a "handful" of referees and judges involved in controversial decisions in the Rio Games. However, the body said there was no possibility of overturning the results of any of the bouts concerned.

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