Michael Conlan wants Vladimir Nikitin rematch and not showdown with Shakur Stevenson

Belfast fighter Michael Conlan
Belfast fighter Michael Conlan

Michael Conlan has dismissed comparisons with fellow elite amateur Shakur Stevenson and is more interested in exacting retribution on Vladimir Nikitin.

Conlan, who won a world title in the unpaid ranks, suffered an infamous points decision reverse to Nikitin at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the Russian has since joined him in turning professional.

Like Conlan, Stevenson – an Olympic silver medallist – boasts an 8-0 record and with the featherweights two of the most promising prospects in boxing, plenty has been made of a potential future match-up between the two. Not, though, by Conlan himself - who fights in Las Vegas on October 20.

“People will make comparisons between me and Shakur and want me to contribute to it but I don’t focus on anybody apart from myself. If he wins a world title before I do, so be it. It doesn’t have any effect on my journey.

“If there was someone who I was slightly focused on, the only person I have in mind is the Russian Nikitin from the Rio Olympics. I want to right that wrong then my focus will turn to something else.

“Shakur has performed well and I know he’s talented. I give him respect but to me he’s just another possible future opponent. He and his people are just mentioning me so often to try and gain publicity.

“His publicist talks all this rubbish about me because I sold out Madison Square Garden. American athletes didn’t do that and so they were just clutching at straws with the whole thing. I’ve said that 2019 is the year I wanted to win a world title. It might be at the end of that year so I can get as much time and experience as possible.”