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Who will step in to fight Michael Conlan in Falls Park after Nikitin withdrawal?

Michael Conlan extended his unbeaten professional record to 11-0 earlier this year in New York (Martin Rickett/PA)
Michael Conlan extended his unbeaten professional record to 11-0 earlier this year in New York (Martin Rickett/PA)

Michael Conlan will fight at Féile an Phobail on August 3, but who will the home boxer be up against?

The opposition corner has been plunged into doubt after the withdrawal of Russian Vladimir Nikitin just five weeks before the bout.

It was a much anticipated rematch between the pair after the 2016 Rio Olympics bout in which Conlan was controversially defeated.

So what now for the fight? Well it seems certain that it will be a more competitive match-up.

Conlan was heavily expected to see off Nikitin, who has only had three professional fights to date. Now the 27-year-old is set for a bigger test as he looks to stretch his perfect professional record to 12 victories.

Currently at the head of the queue is world number six Sofiane Takoucht. According to Michael's brother Jamie, now working with MTK, the Frenchman has already agreed to take on the fight. At 33, Takoucht is a former European champion and has a formidable professional record of 35 victories from 39 fights, with three defeats and a draw. He is unbeaten in eight fights since losing to Alexander Miskirtchian in January 2014. Takoucht was in the ring just two weeks ago, when he beat Yesner Talavera.

Another option is the reigning European champ Andoni Gago. The Spaniard won the vacant belt when he beat Jesus Sanchez just 20 days ago but could also be set for a swift return to the ring. Gago, 33, has a record of 22 professional victories, three defeats and three draws. He's currently on a seven-fight unbeaten run since his defeat to Lee Selby in 2017.

There are, according to Jamie, 'one or two other options' but it is hoped that a new opponent will be announced early next week.

Conlan's Falls Park bout is set to be broadcast live on BT Sport as well as American subscription streaming service ESPN+.

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