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Conlan relishes Big Apple showdown with Nikitin

 

Top night: Michael Conlan after homecoming win at Falls Park
Top night: Michael Conlan after homecoming win at Falls Park
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Michael Conlan will finally have his rematch with Vladimir Nikitin on December 14 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Conlan was to have boxed his bitter rival - who was given a controversial decision over the Belfast man at the Rio Olympics in 2016 - at Falls Park last month but the Russian suffered an injury.

Now the two men will come face to face in December in a fight that Conlan has had his eye on since the day he turned professional with Bob Arum's Top Rank organisation.

While Conlan had agreed to face former WBO World super-bantamweight champion Isaac Dogboe, broadcaster ESPN - who work closely with Arum - wanted to see him in with Nikitin.

"It's a fight that I've always wanted. There's unfinished business because of what happened in Rio," Conlan said.

The Belfast man, who lifted the WBO inter-continental featherweight title at Falls Park with a stoppage of Diego Alberto Ruiz, is hoping that he is only one or two bouts away from fighting for a world title.

Promoter Arum has made it clear that Conlan has options when it comes to world title opportunities, whether at featherweight or super-bantamweight.

Arum said: "We have champions at super-bantamweight and featherweight so it's up to Michael and his team what they want.

"Whatever he feels comfortable with is what we'll do."

Meanwhile, Antrim men Kurt Walker and Aidan Walsh are hoping to make an impact at the World amateur championships in Russia, which start on Monday.

Bantamweight Walker will be seeking to continue his fine form, having triumphed at the European Games in Belarus.

"It would definitely mean a lot to me to medal in the Worlds. I'd like to put my name down with the other bantamweight greats like Michael Conlan, John Joe Nevin," said Walker.

"I'll be using these championships to see where I'm at on the world stage, but my main goal is to always show progress, if I keep doing that the results will come."

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Walsh can also show his Olympics potential by making a statement at the championships.

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