—-After all of the corruption in amateur boxing all the way up to the Olympic Games, Richard McLaren has opened up an investigation and provided evidence into said corruption. So much so that the formerly AIBA, boxing’s amateur regulatory body, has rebranded themselves to the International Boxing Association (IBA). But to anyone who has paid attention to boxing, especially Olympic boxing, for some time knows that this isn’t a new phenomenon. I wanted to take some time and talk about these robberies and the athletes that suffered because of it. This three part series will feature Michael Conlan, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the epitome and poster child of AIBA corruption, Roy Jones Jr.
Today’s part will focus on Michael Conlan and his loss at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. After both fighters made it to the quarter finals, Conlan was the favorite to win in his match against Vladimir Nikitin. Conlan cruise to a win after taking rounds two and three in total punches landed, AIBA’s main scoring criteria. Conlan out landed Nikitin by working off the jab and keeping a high volume.
Breaking down the fight: Michael Conlan vs. Vladimir Nikitin
The fight between Mick Conlan and Vladimir Nikitin was not a barn burner, it wasn’t incredibly exciting. But Michael Conlan did look very good. The Irish prospect put on a great performance in the last two rounds, outlanding Nikitin in the latter portion of the fight. According to CompuBox, Conlan outlanded Nikitin 37 to 26 in round 2 and 29-20 in round 3. Round one was close but giving it to Nikitin is not inconceivable.
Early in that first round, Conlan is working the jab. He stays on his back foot looking to counter off Nikitin coming in and is moving his head, having Nikitin whiffing and missing. While Nikitin is landing well, Conlan is getting in and out of range, moving around, and countering Nikitin well. At the round’s end, the score (boxing in the Olympics uses open scoring each round to the audience) was 10-9 for Nikitin.
In round 2, Michael Conlan is moving even better and is showing the skills of a future star in the making. He has Vladimir Nikitin chasing and looking for a big shot. Conlan is getting close and working well on the inside, a change of game plan from round one. And for Conlan, it’s not just a punch at a time, it’s more than one shot. He may eat one or two, but he’s getting the better of Conlan. By the end of the round, even the announcers are saying how Conlan should be winning this fight. But, alas, the scorecards come up and it is a split, two 10-9 for Nikitin, one for Conlan.
In round three, Nikitin comes out urgent. But Conlan gets in on the inside and starts getting the best of Nikitin again. He’s having an even better of a time on the inside but round 3 is more of the same story in round 2. Conlan is landing punches in bunches getting the best of Vladimir Nikitin even late in the fight. But, as the scorecards are read, it is 10-9 for Nikitin.
The Aftermath of the Robbery
The aftermath of the Michael Conlan-Vladimir Nikitin was rather controversial, especially early on. Immediately after the reading of the absurd scorecards, Conlan went and gave the judges a piece of his mind. And by piece of his mind, I mean he gave us the controversial picture of him giving the judges the middle finger. With Olympics being a place of sportsmanship, this was seen as double obscene. It, however, had a massive implications and brought many eyes to the corruption in amateur boxing. His gesture was so astronomically brash and bold that people paid attention and realized his dreams were squandered because of corruption by the judges, for whatever cause.
This provided fodder for the next step of Michael Conlan and his future promoters in his professional career. Boxing fans, especially those that were tuned in on the 2016 Rio Olympics and seeing the silver or gold medal ripped from him, called for the rematch as a professional. It would take three years for the rematch to come to fruition. But Conlan absolutely dominated Nikitin. Official scorecards were 98-92, 99-91, and 100-90, a virtual shutout.
Since then, Conlan has compiled a 16-1 record and a shot at a World Championship. Vladimir Nikitin hasn’t had such a fortunate career. He’s gone 6-1-1 and hasn’t gained the same traction the bold and brash Conlan has got.
In addition to that controversy about the fight and the rematch, the fight between Conlan and Nikitin was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in McLaren’s interest of the corruption with the AIBA.